The SODA Blog

The official blog of the Sportsplex Operators & Developers Association

Lawsuit over canceled Kimball Farm event dismissed !

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HAVERHILL, NH. — A judge has dismissed a class action lawsuit against the organizers of an outdoor obstacle-course race planned for Kimball Farm in Haverhill.

The suit was filed after the event was canceled and later moved to Maine. That angered some people who had paid money to participate and were unable to attend after the event was moved.

In their suit against organizers of the Mudderella obstacle course, the plaintiffs said that just days prior to the event planned for Sept. 6 at Kimball Farm, Tough Mudder Inc. moved the race to Westbrook, Maine. The plaintiffs said the organizers refused to refund their registration fees and alleged damages on behalf of themselves and other people who wanted to attend the event. 

On June 3, 2014, the Haverhill City Council denied permits for three outdoor sporting events at Kimball Farm — Foam Fest and Dirty Girl Mud Run on July 19, and Mudderella on Sept. 6. The council denied the permits in the wake of major traffic problems at the May 31 Color Me Rad race at Kimball Farm. Organizers of the event said a larger-than-expected number of participants showed up at the same time, when previous similar events at Kimball Farm had staggered starting times.

Kimball Farm’s owners proved the farm was capable of hosting large-scale events without disrupting the neighborhood when it hosted KidsFEST on June 9 of last year. The successful event drew 6,000 to 8,000 participants and created no traffic problems.

After Haverhill officials rejected Mudderella, the event was initially relocated to the Amesbury Sports Park and planned for Sept. 6. 

But in late August, Amesbury officials put a stop to the plan, citing problems with a similar obstacle-course race, called the Spartan Race, that was held behind Amesbury Sports Park  Aug. 9 and 10. 

The Spartan Race was a 4.8-mile trek that wound through the Hunt Road Landfill site and Merrimack Landing Conservation Area, as well as other privately owned land, according to Amesbury officials. Those officials obtained a legal order barring the sports park from trespassing on city land and private property, which the sports park accessed without permission for the Spartan Race.

The Mudderella event was then relocated to Westbrook, Maine.

By Mike LaBella mlabella@eagletribune.com

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Baseball app “GameChanger” brings major league scorekeeping to little league games !

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My junior year of high school was the last year I would play competitive baseball. As the season came to a close, I sat in the last row of the team bus on a return trip from a game that was played three hours away. I had the scorebook on one knee, and a piece of paper and pen on another. Page by page, diamond-filled square by diamond-filled square, I went through the book and tallied my batting average, runs batted in, errors, and a slew of other baseball stats. 

The tedious process took the entire ride back, yet it felt like time well spent. I knew where I did and didn’t contribute to the team throughout the season, and was able to confirm I was in the midst of the best season I’d ever had. But I was the only one that knew any of this, as I was the only one that actually took the time to go through the book.

That bus ride is the first thing that came to mind as I got off the phone with GameChanger CEO Ted Sullivan. GameChanger is a free app for iPhone and iPad that offers a digital alternative to the paper scorebook long used for sporting events.

On the surface, GameChanger appears to be nothing more than a digital scorebook. The app replaces the sloppy stack of bound paper sitting on the scorer’s table at a basketball, softball, baseball, and (soon) lacrosse game. Tap here for a base hit. Touch there for a wild pitch. Press here and here to log a foul and count the basket.

Stats are automatically calculated in real-time and provided to anyone who follows a team or player. “If only this technology existed when I played sports,” I thought, while going over the app for the first time.

Besides baseball, you can track basketball and softball games, too, with lacrosse coming soon. 

But there’s much, much more to the app than just compiling statistics. 

Sullivan estimates that scoring at 95 percent of amateur games is done using pencil and paper. And what’s more, most of the score keeping is left up to volunteers. From my experience, many volunteers often don’t fully understand how to properly score a game, leading to incorrect statistics—a fact that can have an impact on the dreams of young players who hope to play in college and beyond.

GameChanger aims to be “collector of all in-game amateur sports data,” according to Sullivan. By eliminating the learning curve of how to properly score a game through prompts, the data Sullivan wants to collect is easier to record and more likely to be accurate. 

Statistics and scouting reports aside, perhaps the most powerful aspect of GameChanger is that it allows for a parent to follow a child’s game—in real-time—should he or she be stuck at work, overseas, or anywhere with an internet connection. 

Take the game alerts you’ve long associated with your favorite sports app, and apply that to your child’s little league or high school game. You can receive a text alert when Katie gets a base hit, then congratulate her using FaceTime after the game without waiting to hear how the game went; you already know. Or if the game didn’t quite go Johnny’s way, you can offer encouragement without forcing him to detail how bad of a game it really was. 

I talked with Dwight Schmidt, a baseball coach, Marine, and airline pilot who has used GameChanger for the last six years. He was able to address the experience as both a coach, and a parent of young athletes.

Schmidt told me as a coach he’s able to “keep tabs on pitch counts to combat Tommy John injuries,” along with ensure he is playing all kids fairly. He also uses GameChanger stats to pinpoint areas for each player to work on improving. Best of all, the information is available as soon as it’s entered. He no longer has to spend hours combing through a “paper scorebook with [a] stubby pencil and eraser” to compile the stats on his own.

As a parent, he’s powered up his iPhone in South Korea or Afghanistan and received alerts from both of his sons’ games—something that meant a lot to him, and understandably so.

My kids aren’t old enough to follow within GameChanger, but I did follow some teams who use the app. I watched a live game in Georgia, and was mesmerized by the game updates constantly updating within the app. At times there was a bit of a delay, which was followed up by a rapid stream of what had occurred. But overall, you get the general idea of what’s going on in the game beyond what the score is.

After the game is over, GameChanger processes the stats from a game and creates a newspaper worthy recap, that is then emailed to paid followers of a team. 

GameChanger is free for coaches, who can then add two additional admins to the account. The three accounts combined can keep scores and have full access to a team. Parents can sign up and become a “fan” of a team for free, with access to live scores. If you want to receive live updates and in-depth stats, you can sign up for a monthly plan of $40 per year, or $8 a month. 

I often talk about my jealousy towards the current generation growing up with access to technology I could have only dreamed of when I was younger.

GameChanger is a prime example of my jealousy. Instead of sifting through page after page of barely legible handwriting in a scorebook managed by a freshman volunteer on the bus ride home, I could have only dreamed of launching an app on a contraption called an iPhone and viewing my stats. Who knows, maybe a scout would have taken notice of the season I was having and encouraged me to keep playing.

Jason Cipriani | @mrcippy

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New Outdoor Action Sports Park Hosting Country Music Festival !

APRIL 15, 2015

New Outdoor Action Sports Park Hosting Country Music Festival

Photo courtesy of Florida Tracks & Trails

The excitement surrounding the grand opening of the outdoor action sports park Florida Tracks & Trails in Punta Gorda, Florida, has thrill seekers ready to hit the dirt, but the addition of an inaugural music festival will make this a must-visit destination.

According to a statement from the Florida Tracks & Trails management, the outdoor park will be first opened to the public for the 2015 edition of the Country Life Music Festival, which will take place on the fairgrounds in the park from April 24-26.

The lineup for the festival is impressive for country music fans, and should be enough to entice people to visit the outdoor park. With performances from Reba McEntire, Hank Williams Jr, Billy Currington, Big & Rich, Charlie Daniels, .38 Special and many other stars, this should be the perfect mixture of action packed adventure and a Southern party atmosphere.

Founder of the Country Life Music Festival, Brad Maloney, released a statement about the backdrop of this year’s event:

“This venue is amazing, there is nothing like this in this part of the country. Folks are just not going to believe their eyes when it is complete. It is an outdoorsman’s paradise, a great destination for families and the perfect venue for our festival brand.”

Visitors who purchase a festival pass will have access to several dirt bike trails—including the amateur, beginner, peewee and side-by-side tracks—the ATV trails, the paintball park and the beach. The park itself will be opened for full-time business in May, but this is the first opportunity for fans to get a sneak peak at what everyone is talking about.

For those who seek adventure on vacation, Florida Tracks & Trails is a 1,000-acre park featuring 22 miles of off-road-vehicle trails, four motocross tracks, 80 acres of paintball fields, a 12-acre freshwater beach and lake and the 56-acre event grounds that hosts the 2015 Country Life Music Festival, according to the park’s official website.

If your family is looking for a little more adventure in a late-April vacation, be one of the first to tame the terrain of the new Florida Tracks & Trails while enjoying some great country music.

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Be Prepared ! – Baseball Field Preparation !

Things are coming down to the wire as Opening Day approaches! One thing that amazes me every year is how many baseball groundskeepers wait until the last minute to order the supplies and equipment they need to get their fields ready for play. Baseball field preparation requires advanced planning and purchasing to ensure smooth execution when it comes time for game day.baseball field preparation

Baseball Field Preparation

Back when I took care of Oriole Park and even now as I help take care of a 3-field Little League complex, I plan to get everything in my barn way ahead of time so there is little chance of having to make frantic last minute calls for supplies while I’m in the middle of working on the fields. Part of my shut down routine each fall is putting together a list of what I will need to order in the late winter based on my inventory at the end of the season. I’m able to do that because I’ve already gone through the budget process for the coming season to know how much money I have to spend in my various cost centers. Next, I’ll generate a list of other items I need to purchase like tools, irrigation supplies, netting, fencing, backstop padding, windscreen and so on while everything is still fresh on my mind. That way, I can plan out my purchasing timing wisely so I greatly reduce or eliminate any chance of not being prepared.

Procrastination Hurts

Don’t let procrastination get the best of you. Too many Beacon customers wait until the last minute to purchase things they’ve known they needed to get their field(s) ready for the season. That procrastination can result in the need to expedite shipping which is expensive, no matter the size of the package. I’ve also seen customers make simple ordering mistakes because they were rushing and did not take adequate measurements or double check the item code number of what they were ordering. This leads to the wrong product or size being ordered, increasing costs from returns, and time lost while waiting on the right equipment to come in.

If you haven’t ordered custom built items for Opening Day yet, (non-standard size windscreenbaseball nettingpaddingtarps, etc.),  it could be tough to accomplish at this point. Lead times increase as the start of the season approaches due to demand for custom product. Lead times can grow to anywhere from two to four weeks depending on the item. Make sure you have accurate measurements and design so that you get exactly what you need for your baseball field preparation.

 

baseball home plate, baseball field preparationThe more organized you are with your purchasing, the more prepared you will be for the upcoming season. Additionally, you protect yourself from unexpected costs or delivery delays when you plan and purchase early. As the Boy Scouts say, “Be Prepared!

 

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