The SODA Blog

The official blog of the Sportsplex Operators & Developers Association

Be Prepared !

Be Prepared!

Things are coming down to the wire as 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

Back when I took care of Oriole Park at Camden Yards, 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 better of you. Too many wait until the last minute to purchase items they’ve known they need to get their fields 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 in a rush 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 even more time lost while waiting on the right equipment to come in. It’s all avoidable.

If you haven’t ordered custom built items for Opening Day yet — non-standard size windscreen, baseball netting, padding, tarps, 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. Those 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.

The 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!”

 

Paul Zwaska

Paul Zwaska

A former head groundskeeper for the Baltimore Orioles, Paul graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1984 with a Bachelor’s in Soil Science with a specialty in Turf & Grounds Management. Paul took over as head groundskeeper for the Orioles’ final season at old Memorial Stadium in Baltimore and then was heavily involved throughout the design and construction phases of Oriole Park at Camden Yards which debuted on April 4, 1992. Paul has led Technical Sales Support at Beacon Athletics since the summer of 2000. In 2012, Paul authored and oversaw the launch of “Groundskeeper University”, the first online ballfield maintenance training venue. Over the years, Paul has donated thousands of hours working with West Madison Little League, which also plays a critical role in the research and development for many of Beacon’s innovative field maintenance tools.

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Total Soccer Sports Park ready for indoor activities !

In to a multi-use soccer field and volleyball courts, Total Soccer Sports Park will have dance studios, exercise rooms and a sports bar. The facility will officially open on Monday Jan. 29.In to a multi-use soccer field and volleyball courts, Total Soccer Sports Park will have dance studios, exercise rooms and a sports bar. The facility will officially open on Monday Jan. 29.

Macomb, GA. – Total Soccer Sports Park owner Chris McInally has invested over three years to make his dream into a reality. This week the reward for his efforts will be open to the public.

Total Soccer, located near 30 Mile Road off of the Van Dyke Expressway in Washington Township, will open their 118,000 square-foot indoor facility Monday.

“This is the most difficult thing I have ever done,” said McInally. “But it is a proud feeling to stand here and realize the dream.”

Washington Township acquired 200 acres of land near for $1.5 million dollars with plans to build a new community center on the property and work with Total Soccer to create their own community center.

In 2013 McInally and his partners finalized a deal with the township to buy 80 acres of the site and began work to bring their vision to life.

Two years ago the first games were played on 24 outdoor soccer fields. McInally said they have hosted dozens of tournaments and gotten positive feedback from those who have traveled to participate.

“We have brought a lot of people out here over the last two years and the response has been great,” said McInally. “With the indoor facility we will be able to bring people out to northern Macomb County year around.”

The indoor facility, which broke ground in July of 2017, was built adjacent to the outdoor fields with access off Powell Road.

The new building will house a full-size soccer field that can host multiple sports, six volleyball courts, six batting cages, a dance studio, a workout facility and a sports bar.

McInally said games have been played on the soccer field and volleyball courts for the past two weeks as crews put the finishing touches on the rest of the facility.

On Monday all activities in the facility will be open and free exercise classes will be offered for the first week.

Preliminary plans to add a sports academy charter school aimed specifically at athletes on the site are in the works.

“Our goal is for athletes to receive a quality education and have the best coaches in the world here to coach them,” said McInally.

Sign up has already begun for youth and adult soccer and volleyball leagues.

Children played soccer as dozens of local and county officials came out to the Total Soccer Sports Park on July 20 for a monumental groundbreaking ceremony.

Total Soccer co-owner Chris McInally welcomed Washington Township Board members, Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller and others to the park as kids played soccer on fields already opened on the site.

O’Leary announced last month that initial concepts and ideas are being looked at for the community center with a completion goal sometime in 2019 or 2020.

Owner Chris McInally said that they will be looking to create a charter school sports academy within the next 12 months. This artist rendering shows it will be built next to the newly created 118,000 sq. ft. indoor facility.Owner Chris McInally said that they will be looking to create a charter school sports academy within the next 12 months. This artist rendering shows it will be built next to the newly created 118,000 sq. ft. indoor facility. Matthew Fahr

Miller praised the use of the land.

“One of the beauties in this area is all the green space,” she said. “It is such a perfect mix of utilization in what was an old dairy farm here.”

McInally said that another building on the site could be on the horizon, but for now the focus in on completion of the this building and evaluating how it performs.

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Winter Carnival returns Presidents Weekend !

Winter Carnival returns Presidents Weekend

File photoSledders form a continuous line to the top of the hill at Petoskey’s Winter Sports Park in 2014.

PETOSKEY, MI. — Adults and children will have plenty of activities to choose from at the 90th annual Winter Carnival in Petoskey.

Andi Symonds, downtown promotions coordinator, said people can enjoy many festivities from Feb. 15-18, Presidents’ Day weekend, in downtown Petoskey and the Winter Sports Park.

“It’s a nice and fun winter event during February to get out of that cabin fever,” Symonds said.

The festivities kick-off on Thursday, Feb. 15. with a wine-and-dine progressive dinner, in which participants will eat at different establishments throughout the evening. For example, attendees will taste a cheese course at Petoskey Cheese and entrees at Stafford’s Perry Hotel, Symonds said.

A “chocoholic frolic” is planned for Friday, Symonds said. People can tour downtown shops to test out treats and those that visit all participating stores will have a chance to win a gift basket in a drawing. People can also enjoy a ghost walk on Friday, which is similar to the tours during the summers, she said.

On Saturday, both adults and kids can have fun from 1-4 p.m. at Pennsylvania Park, Symonds said. Parents can hang out at the ice bar sponsored by High Five Spirits while the kids snowshoe or build snowmen.

“Proceeds (from the ice bar) go to the Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council, so it’s nice to give back to them,” Symonds said.

Symonds added people could also check out fowling, which combines football and bowling, and see live ice sculpting on Saturday at Pennsylvania Park.

In addition to the downtown events, several competitions will be at the Winter Sports Park. These will include bumpjumping — in which competitors ride a single ski with a seat attached — along with youth sledding and a cardboard challenge on Saturday. Also, the Petoskey Figure Skating Club is to perform an exhibition at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at the Winter Sports Park.

The weekend of festivities wraps up with a scavenger hunt from 11 a.m.- 4 p.m. Sunday at stores throughout downtown, Symonds said.

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Bands, beer and games at Fieldhouse Jam !

Monthly music and sports event kicks off Saturday !

1-25 Fieldhouse Jam

Knockerball, archery tag, great food and fun tunes are in store for the inaugural Winter Fieldhouse Jam at Steen Sports Park – a monthly music and games community event. Tickets are $5 and features live music at 7 p.m. by Fat Sexy. Winter Fieldhouse Jam events will be held on the last Saturday of each month through April.

Klamath Falls, OR – It is the ideal mix of food, games and live music, as Steen Sports Park embarks on a new monthly venture – the Winter Fieldhouse Jam.

A monthly celebration of sports and good tunes, the inaugural jam kicks off this Saturday and continues on the last Saturday of each month through April. The event features a different local band each month, matched with a fun day of indoor activities and food. Admission is $5 per person, with kids aged 5 and under admitted free of charge. A fifth ticket is free with the purchase of four.

Intended as a fun way for the community to be active and social during the winter doldrums, the event allows an escape from the cold inside the heated 60,000-square-foot facility for activities like volleyball, a bounce house, lawn games and the park’s two newest offerings: Knockerball and archery tag. Food is provided courtesy of Klamath Falls food truck Mac & Cheese Steaks. A beer garden will also be provided for patrons 21 and older.

Events begin at noon, with live music commencing at 7 p.m. The January edition of the Winter Fieldhouse Jam features live music by Fat Sexy. The February jam will feature music by Code Blue, followed by Black Cadillac Kings performing in March and Slap headlining April’s jam.

Volunteers are being sought to assist with each month’s activities. Proceeds from the jams will benefit Steen Sports Park.

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In Atlanta, Concessions Prices Go Down and Revenue Goes Up !

Mercedes-Benz Stadium offered affordable food options alongside higher-end concessions, and it appeared to pay off. CreditChristian Petersen/Getty Images

It is one of the indisputable axioms in pro sports: Teams that open new stadiums raise prices for tickets, parking and food. After all, the owners have to recoup the hundreds of millions — or billions — of dollars in construction costs.

Arthur M. Blank, the owner of the N.F.L.’s Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United of Major League Soccer, has tried to break the mold, at least for food and drinks. When he opened Mercedes-Benz Stadium last year, he included concession stands selling craft beer, designer sandwiches and high-end barbecue.

But he also included a value menu, with bottomless soft drinks, $2 hot dogs, $5 cheeseburgers and other affordable items. The idea was to give fans a break while acknowledging that the price to attend games, including personal seat licenses for season-ticket holders, was more expensive than in the Falcons’ previous home, the Georgia Dome.

The approach has paid dividends. Despite a 50 percent decrease in prices for food and nonalcoholic drinks compared to prices in the Georgia Dome, the amount spent per fan increased by 16 percent, Blank’s sports company, AMB Sports and Entertainment, said on Thursday.

The results suggest that fans will consume more if prices are kept at more reasonable levels, with potentially no effects on the team’s bottom line.

“I understand bringing kids to sporting events and saving up for tickets, and when you get inside you have to buy them food, and a hot dog that is $2 outside is suddenly $7 inside, and being frustrated by it,” Blank said. “You find ways to tell fans beyond words that you really care about their interests.”

Fans in Atlanta appear to have embraced Blank’s strategy. According to surveys of fans by the N.F.L., Mercedes-Benz Stadium ranked No. 1 in terms of quality, value, speed of service and variety. The number of fans who arrived earlier before games increased by 10 percent as well, indicating that dining options inside the stadium were better than those in the surrounding area.

Part of the improvement is obvious. Mercedes-Benz Stadium is the newest venue in the N.F.L., which means the kitchens and other infrastructure are newer than those in other stadiums. The Falcons also made it to the Super Bowl last season, so fan interest was high. And new stadiums almost always draw more fans because of their novelty.

Chris Bigelow, a stadium concessions consultant, said the novelty of selling basic food items at a lower price appeared to be a hit in Atlanta. But he has not seen any specific financial figures suggesting that the approach is anything more than a loss-leader.

He added that about 70 percent of revenue for N.F.L. teams comes from leaguewide television, sponsorship and merchandise contracts, so they do not need to rely on money from food and beverage sales in their stadiums as much as teams in other leagues.

“In the grand scheme of things, you could give food away,” he said.

And while fans may welcome inexpensive food options, they may only partly offset the higher prices for tickets and personal seat licenses.

For now, no other team appears to have copied Blank’s strategy, which he said was based on his experience as a co-founder of Home Depot.

Mike Gomes, the senior vice president for fan experience at AMB Sports and Entertainment, said the teams benefited from being able to design larger and more efficient concession stands from scratch in a new stadium. But he said the key was making sure the food wasn’t just cheap, but good.

“No one wants a $2 hot dog when it’s cold,” he said, “and no one wants a $2 hot dog when they are sold out.”

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All Field Marking Chalks Are Not Created Equal !

baseball field chalk

Differences in Marking Chalk

Dry line products used for marking lines on ballfields usually come from one of two types of stone, limestone or marble. Limestone is a sedimentary rock while marble is a metamorphic rock that is formed when heat and pressure are exerted on a limestone deposit, such as during the formation of mountains, and the limestone transforms into marble.

Both of these stone products are high in calcium carbonate, which helps to give these materials a white or off-white color. Dry line marking material that is produced from sedimentary limestone is generally a softer material and flows more slowly through a dry line chalker. Limestone-based chalk is produced in many areas all across the United States which tends to make it more widely available. Conversely, marble is a harder, purer marking material that tends to flow faster in a chalker. Marble chalk is produced in more mountainous areas of the US, primarily in northern Georgia and western Colorado.

How to Prevent Line Chalk from ‘Bridging’

Since both chalking materials are stone products, their particles will be fairly angular when crushed down to fine powder. This angularity usually is not visible to the naked eye, yet has a significant effect on flowability of the fine powder through a dry line marker. Frequently, groundskeepers will blame moisture as the culprit for their chalking material bridging in the hopper of their chalker. However, the main reason chalk bridges is because the angular particles will slowly interlock with each other as the chalk slowly settles out in the hopper.

When you first pour a bag of marking chalk into the hopper, air is infused into the chalk powder, which makes it flow more easily as the air takes up space between the particles. As the chalking unit is pushed along the ground, the vibration shakes the hopper and slowly the air is removed from the chalk. This allows the material to settle and interlock, thereby impeding the flow of the chalk through the hopper. It is always Beacon’s recommendation to fill your chalker’s hopper at the home plate circle and only place the amount of chalk needed to line that particular field. Usually 25 to 35 lbs. of marking chalk is sufficient enough to properly line a ball field.

As mentioned earlier, the different marking chalks move at different speeds through a chalker. Marble flows faster than limestone chalk. To correct for this, it is critical to have a chalker that has an adjustable flow control to enable the operator to meter out the desired thickness of chalk. Many dry line markers only have an on-off lever to control the chalk. These are either open or closed with no additional adjustment for chalk flow control.

The Streamliner Dry Line Marker is one of the very few that allows a range of openings in the drop slot to allow the operator full control of the chalk flow (no matter which type is used) and the quality of the line produced. A chalker like the Streamliner with the variable flow control will likely end up helping an organization cut their marking chalk needs by as much as 1/3 while improving the quality of the chalk lines they apply.

Definitely check out Groundskeeper U for lessons about Creating Foul Lines and about preventing bridging.

Paul Zwaska

Paul Zwaska

A former head groundskeeper for the Baltimore Orioles, Paul graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1984 with a Bachelor’s in Soil Science with a specialty in Turf & Grounds Management. Paul took over as head groundskeeper for the Orioles’ final season at old Memorial Stadium in Baltimore and then was heavily involved throughout the design and construction phases of Oriole Park at Camden Yards which debuted on April 4, 1992. Paul has led Technical Sales Support at Beacon Athletics since the summer of 2000. In 2012, Paul authored and oversaw the launch of “Groundskeeper University”, the first online ballfield maintenance training venue. Over the years, Paul has donated thousands of hours working with West Madison Little League, which also plays a critical role in the research and development for many of Beacon’s innovative field maintenance tools.
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www.sadlersports.com/soda

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Beacon Ballfields Weekly Posts ! (Jan’18)

Jan. 22, 2018       |       BeaconAthletics.com        |       Ballfields.com

THIS WEEK’S FIELD TIP

Dry line products used for marking lines on ballfields usually come from one of two types of stone, limestone or marble. Limestone is a sedimentary rock while marble is a metamorphic rock that is formed when heat and pressure are exerted on a limestone deposit, such as during the formation of mountains, and the limestone transforms into marble.

Both of these stone products are high in calcium carbonate, which helps to give these materials a white or off-white color. Dry line marking material that is produced from sedimentary limestone is generally a softer material and flows more slowly through a dry line chalker. Limestone-based chalk is produced in many areas all across the United States which tends to make it more widely available. Conversely, marble is a harder, purer marking material that tends to flow faster in a chalker. Marble chalk is produced in more mountainous areas of the US, primarily in northern Georgia and western Colorado… Read the rest of Paul Zwaska’s article at Ballfields.comAll Field Marking Chalks Are Not Created Equal

Visit Ballfields.com frequently for tips & articles andGroundskeeperU.com for online training.

Triple Play Batter’s Box Template  SAVE 10%

IN STOCK: Ships within 24 hours!  All of your batter’s box sizes in one template. This batter’s box template is a big time saver and makes sure your batter’s box is always accurately aligned with home plate. Three sizes in one simple template.  (Valid thru Jan. 28, use code TRIP10 during checkout)

 Bolco Major League Style 175-MLB Base Set with Double 1st Base  SAVE 10%

IN STOCK: Ships within 24 hours!  Molded one-piece heavy rubber.Universal aluminum stanchion fits 1½” & 1″ anchors. (Valid for set with one double 1st base and two bases only thru Jan. 28, use code MLB10 during checkout)

OPEN BOX ITEM OF THE WEEK

OPEN BOX Item — Throw Down Home Plate — SAVE $5!  — All rubber, waffle-bottom, 1/2″ thick throw down homeplate. Perfect for the gym, batting cage, temporary bullpen or hitting mat. Brand-new condition. Quantities are limited… Reg. $15, NOW $10

Get Your Copy of the 2018 Catalog!

If you need it for your field, you’ll find it here. Request your copy of The Ultimate Ballfield Resource. Our new 2018 catalog is now available and it feature a complete listing of products to keep you rolling with everything you need all season long. This is your go-to must-have resource.

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Check Out Our Insurance Program Today !


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It’s showtime for the new Westlake, CA community park !

Photos by JOHN LOESING/Acorn Newspapers

The $26.2-million park will be dedicated by Westlake Village, CA officials during a public ceremony and open house at noon Sun., Jan. 21.

The project’s donors, sponsors and partnerships will be honored, and guests will be treated to free food, games, youth sports demonstrations, photo opportunities and fitness equipment instruction. Former Los Angeles Dodger great Ron Cey will speak at the ceremony and will be available for photographs.

West- lake Village City Councilmember Brad Halpern said he’s excited about the city’s crowning achievement. Construction started in 2009 and was followed by a soft opening for a pair of ball fields and a skate park, but Sunday’s ceremony will officially open the park to the public for the first time.

“It’s spectacular. You’re only 100 feet above Thousand Oaks Boulevard but it feels like half a mile,” Halpern said. “The view from up there is great. More importantly, the facility is head and shoulders above other facilities— the baseball fields with brick backstops look like Wrigley Field.

“Everything about it is just a pretty place for the community to play—even with the gazebo overlooking the entire Conejo Valley, just to take a picnic lunch up there,” Halpern said.

The park sits on an 18-acre hilltop site that includes eight acres of lighted, synthetic turf athletic fields for soccer, football, baseball, softball and other sports, a walking and jogging trail, skate park, picnic areas, outdoor volleyball and basketball courts, fitness equipment, restroom and concession facilities, and children’s play areas.

Brianne Anderson, community services director for Westlake Village, said the project took decades from conception to completion because of a range of issues—location, planning, funding and construction. Construction crews had to remove hundreds of millions of cubic tons of dirt just to cut space in the two hillsides where the park lies.

The park’s first proposed site— on Lindero Canyon Road in the Canyon Oaks community about one mile north of the present site—was rejected by homeowners. But a later land swap with the homeowners provided the hilltop location where the park now sits.

“Looking to find a space big enough to do a project of that magnitude was something that took years,” Anderson said. “The public workshops with the sports groups, with the community, with kids, adults, seniors, to find out exactly what elements we needed to have that people felt might be missing from our community that could be held up there, like the skate park or sports fields, were a big need that was found by hosting those meetings, as well as just a place for people to congregate,” she said.

The city built the park in partnership with the YMCA, which has a facility on the premises that isn’t yet open. Construction of the building stalled after the project ran out of funds. Ronnie Stone, president and CEO of Southeast Ventura County YMCA, said the group underestimated the cost of constructing the 55,000-square-foot facility, but continues to raise funds and hopes to have the Y fully financed before the end of the year.

When it’s finished, the YMCA will house a fitness center, two pools, a basketball court and multipurpose space for classes ranging from business to yoga.

“One of the things we’ve all been frustrated about is you have these parents taking their kids to soccer or football practice, all these things, and they’re stuck sitting in the car waiting for the kids,” Stone said.

“Our hope is now . . . while their kids are playing soccer, the parents can be swimming, working out, doing the walking track, whatever it might be. We’ve kind of created a cornerstone for that region, so it’s really exciting to see this thing finally come to fruition,” Stone said.

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Beacon Ballfields Weekly Posts ! (Jan’18)

Jan. 15, 2018       |       BeaconAthletics.com        |       Ballfields.com

THIS WEEK’S FIELD TIP

A Refresher on Infield Skin Topdressing — Topdressing is a thin layer of material designed to stay loose and resist compaction. The layer should be between ¼” to ½” in depth. Any deeper and it will negatively affect ball bounce and player traction. The topdressing layer has many benefits to the infield. Most importantly, it assists in moisture management and provides resiliency on the surface of the skin. It allows you to re-enter infields sooner after a rain and gives you the capability to add more water to the infield skin without making a muddy mess, provided you are working with a proper base soil for your infield.

An infield skin topdressing works much like mulch in a garden — it shades the base soil from direct sunlight, which helps to slow the evaporation process from drying out the base soil. The base soil is where you want your moisture on your infield to reside in order to provide resiliency to the infield surface. The composition of your topdressing will also help this process as well. Different topdressings do different things. Some absorb a lot of water, others absorb little, if any at all…. Read the rest of Paul Zwaska’s “refresher” at Ballfields.comA Refresher on Infield Skin Topdressing

Visit Ballfields.com frequently for tips & articles andGroundskeeperU.com for online training.

Jack Corbett MLB Base Set  SAVE 10%

IN STOCK: Ships within 24 hours!  The real big league base. Original Hollywood Jack Corbett™ Bases have been used by MLB® since 1939 and are the exclusive bases of MLB®. Set of 3.  (Valid thru Jan. 21, use code JACK10during checkout)

 Cocoa Mat Hand Drag  SAVE 10%

IN STOCK: Ships within 24 hours!  A perfect finish. The Cocoa Mat Hand Drag seemingly floats over topdressing for a pro-style finish — without displacing topdressing or soil. (Valid thru Jan. 21, use code MAT10 during checkout)

OPEN BOX ITEM OF THE WEEK

OPEN BOX Item — 5-spiked Economy Home Plate — SAVE $10!  — 3/4″ heavy molded rubber homeplate. Includes 5 screw-in spikes. Brand-new condition. Quantities are limited… Reg. $29, NOW $19

The 2018 Catalog is Available Now…

If you need it for your field, you’ll find it here. Request your copy of The Ultimate Ballfield Resource. Our new 2018 catalog is now available and it feature a complete listing of products to keep you rolling with everything you need all season long.

Request a Catalog

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It’s Never To Late – Save Your Program Money !
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Local veteran seeks donations for sports park !

WAKARUSA, Kan. (WIBW) — Max Cohen, Director of Heroes Memorial Sports Park Inc., wants to create a sports park where other veterans can enjoy their time peacefully with their families on his plot of land in Wakarusa.

“I have PTSD and a lot of other veterans have PTSD, so I kind of know what they’re looking for,” Cohen said. “To be able to get out and spend time with their kids and not worry about bad things happening.”

Cohen said Heroes Memorial Park will include camping areas, cabins, bath houses and other entertainment facilities.

Heroes Memorial Sports Park Inc. is a non-profit organization. They’re looking for donations to make Cohen’s idea come to life.

“It’s just something I feel I have to do,”Cohen said. “Leave something behind that a lot of people in the future will be able to really enjoy.”

Cohen adds that he want a “peaceful place” for veterans to enjoy their time with their families.

The project is split into 4 phases totaling more than $800,000. Phase 1 will cost $20,000 alone.

“We’re just hoping people see what’s going on and will like to donate to us so we can get this project done.

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It’s Never To Late – Save Your Program Money !
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