The SODA Blog

The official blog of the Sportsplex Operators & Developers Association

Tucson’s Sportspark hosting softball tournaments after two-month closure !

Multi_sports_complex_1March, 1st, 2017

Tucson, AZ – The Ironwood Ridge High School Nighthawks softball team won the annual Canyon del Oro Dorado Classic last weekend, the first tournament to be seen at the Mike Jacob Sportspark in about two months.

The northwest Tucson park, the second-largest lighted softball facility in the county, was closed at the end of December after the previous private operator, Championship Sports, rejected a month-to-month arrangement it said was incompatible with successful tournament scheduling. During the closure, the county carried out a number of repairs it said were necessary to ensure safety.

At its Dec. 13 meeting, the Board of Supervisors approved up to $1 million in repairs in improvement costs that will be covered with revenues from recent right-of-way sales to the state and unspent bond funding originally destined for projects that were “modified or substantially abandoned,” according to a Feb. 27 memo from County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry.

A second phase of improvements is planned after a consultant finishes a report — expected in the “next few months” — with cost estimates and prioritization of additional work. The county likely spent less than the budgeted $75,000 for the first phase, according to parks and recreation director Chris Cawein.

The work included replacing unprotected steel gas lines, some electrical repairs and “structural analysis” of wooden poles, some of which had previously snapped and fallen onto the volleyball court.

The softball tournament is expected to be one of a number of sporting events in coming months to be organized with special use permits issued by Cawein’s department. Organizations with their own insurance, among other requirements, can request such permits for tournaments and other activities on a “non-exclusive, first come, first served basis,” as explained in a Feb. 22 memo from Cawein to Huckelberry.

Additionally, Pinnacle Concessions, the food and beverage manager, was granted its own permit to periodically operate food stands at the entry gate.

Cawein said this will be the basic arrangement at the facility until 2018, when it is the county’s intention to put out a request for proposals for a sole facility operator, as opposed to the previous arrangement that featured three separate private contractors, including Pinnacle and Championship.

Cawein said his department is up to the task of scheduling tournaments for the rest of the year, and anticipates more tournaments for a more diverse array of sports — though less league play initially. Though he believes the county could run it as is in perpetuity, “a strong partnership with a unitary operator is the best long-term strategy,” he said.

“This will help us to leverage limited public funds for the greatest benefit of the public,” he added.

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