The SODA Blog

The official blog of the Sportsplex Operators & Developers Association

Windsor Locks voters approve tax break for sports complex !

WINDSOR LOCKS, CT.Voters on Wednesday backed a plan to create a Tax Increment Financing district in the area of the proposed All Sports Village complex at the east end of the Route 20 corridor.

The vote was 969-719.

The sports complex, initially pitched to residents last July, will bring $27 million in spending to the town within five years, according to a study commissioned by the developer and performed by consulting firm Sports Facilities Advisory.

First Selectman Christopher Kervick and developer Andrew Borgia, principal of JABS Sports Management, have made it clear that the deal would require the establishment of a TIF district, which would allow the town to deposit new property taxes collected from the business into a special fund and then use that money to subsidize the business and make infrastructure improvements to the surrounding area.

Kervick has said the arrangement wouldn’t hurt the town, as the tax money the town would rebate to the business would be new funds, and those who visit the sports complex — which is to include several amenities for young athletes and their families — would spend money locally.

Residents who’ve supported the complex at public hearings have argued that it is an opportunity for economic growth in town and would attract new residents.

But other residents raised a host of concerns about the TIF arrangement and the complex itself. Some oppose bringing in a business that is unable or unwilling to operate without such abatements, while others have said the complex would disturb neighbors and strain local resources.

The vote originally was to take place at a town meeting, but more than 300 residents signed a petition to force the referendum. Carl Schiessl, a former state senator who led that effort, also has raised concerns about contamination to the Waterworks Brook, a protected property neighboring the proposed site of the complex.

At Wednesday’s referendum, a majority of the almost 1,700 voters who came out supported the idea; several voters were still shuffling in and out of Town Hall only minutes before the polls closed.

After the vote, Kervick took to Windsor Locks Moving Forward, a Facebook page that he uses to communicate about various town issues, to comment on how the town would proceed.

“Many legitimate questions have been raised and we have to work together, within the framework of our land-use laws and the regulations of our local land use agencies to answer each of them,” he said. “We don’t know where that process will lead us, but we know that wherever it leads us we must get there with patience, mutual respect, and hard work.”

The town now must negotiate an agreement with JABS Sports Management as to what percentage of its tax money will be rebated each year. The agreement allows for a rebate of up to 90 percent, though the town could negotiate a lower number.

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It’s Never To Late To Save Your Program Money !
Check Out Our Insurance Program Today !

* ( 16 Different Amateur Sports ) *

( Officials, Tournaments, & Facilities ) *

1-800-622-7370

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

www.sadlersports.com/soda

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

“Proudly Serving The USA/Canada 

Since 1981”

www.sportsplexoperators.com

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“Proudly Serving The USA/Canada 

Since 1981”

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FLOODING: 9 Keys to Recovering Your Ballfields !

How to Recover When Your Field Floods…

Every year there are many major challenges that confront the sports field manager: Late winter snow storms, frost depths, Bombogenesis Nor’easters, severe storms and tornadoes, heavy rains, and flooding. All work against field managers in meeting their deadlines to have their fields up and running on time, regardless of the season or sport. None of these weather events is more damaging and debilitating than a major flood on a sports field. It doesn’t matter if you have natural or artificial turf on your field, a flood is likely going to mean a whole lot of hard work ahead.

There are two primary types of flooding.The first involves a constantly moving body of water across your field. While this can reduce the amount of sediment that will settle out on your playing surface, it could also wash out your skinned infield if you have a baseball or softball field, depending on the speed and movement of the water. Moving water can also do tremendous damage to artificial turf by floating the turf upward and then pushing it into ripples or piles on the field surface.

The second type of flooding involves the rise and eventual fall of a fairly stagnant pond of flood water. This type of flooding will likely deposit a layer of silt and clay wherever the flood water exists since there is no current to keep the silt and clay suspended. This layer can suffocate turfgrass and seal up even the best drainage systems depending on how thick the layer is and how quickly it can be removed after the flood event.


9 KEY STEPS to recovering your fields after a flood:


Beacon Multiplex Flooding

    1. THE GOLDEN RULE: STAY OFF THE FIELD until all water is off and the ground is firm enough to support motorized equipment.
    2. Remove all large debris left behind by the flood.
    3. If sediment was deposited on the field, remove as much as possible on both grass areas and skinned infield areas. Scoop up and then wash off any remaining sediment on the turf blades immediately before the sediment dries too much.
    4. With the majority of the sediment removed,cultivate the field to further remove and dilute any remaining sediment. Aerify with hollow tines. Collect the cores and apply topdressing using clean soil that is identical or slightly more coarse than existing soil. Drag the topdressing in and finish with a nice roll to ensure a smooth playing field.
    5. If the turfgrass was badly damaged from the flood, then overseeding or sprigging in concert with the aerification process is the perfect answer to thickening your turf back to it’s previous glory.
    6. A flood will leach vital nutrients out of the soil. Remember to temporarily amp up your fertility program to build your nutrients back to proper levels for your turf and to assist the turf stand in it’s recovery.

Beacon Multiplex Flooding

  1. Flood waters can transport billions of weed seeds.Regularly scout your turf areas as recovery progresses. Chemically treat only if needed. As your turf stand recovers, the increased turf density should out compete most weeds.
  2. If flooding occurs during warm and humid weather, be alert for elevated disease activity due to ideal conditions and if possible treat preventatively as the existing turfgrass that survived will still be working to regain it’s strength and vigor.
  3. If you maintain an artificial turf field, flooding likely did some serious damage. Be sure to consult with your insurance company. Much of the remediation and repair may well be covered. But even then, it will still take an extended period of time to put the field back into play and make it safe for usage. Be sure to conduct a drainage analysis to gauge the status of the usually extensive drainage system. A certified installer for the type of turf system you have should be involved in evaluating what steps are needed to bring the artificial surface safely back on line.

Most importantly, after you have gone through an event like this at your facility, conduct a review of the event to identify what could have been done differently in the future to minimize damage to the facility and to ensure the safety of all who work and play there should a similar event happen again. Write up a plan, distribute it to all involved, and be sure that each person knows their responsibility to protect life and property.

The National Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA) and it’s charitable wing, the SAFE Foundation, have issued an excellent 5-page bulletin dealing with flooding on sports fields. Some of which was used for this blog. Click the button below to go to this well thought out information piece for sports fields managers and good luck during the sometimes violent weather ahead.

View Flood Recovery Products STMA Bulletin on Flooding

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.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

It’s Never To Late To Save Your Program Money !
Check Out Our Insurance Program Today !

* ( 16 Different Amateur Sports ) *

( Officials, Tournaments, & Facilities ) *

1-800-622-7370

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

www.sadlersports.com/soda

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

“Proudly Serving The USA/Canada 

Since 1981”

www.sportsplexoperators.com

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“Proudly Serving The USA/Canada 

Since 1981”

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WOOD IS GOOD! The Return of a Timeless Tool !

One of the biggest surprises from the last STMA conference was the excitement created by a product we are reintroducing for 2019. This product had been absent from our catalog since 2007, but it really brings back fond memories for me. So much so that when our original manufacturer ceased production nearly 12 years ago, I refused to give up in finding a new supplier and, finally, my persistence was rewarded last spring. I’ve been itching to get this underrated product back in front of the groundskeeping masses ever since. In fact, I’ve been getting teased a bit here at Beacon because of my unbridled love for this classic product and my unrelenting quest to find a new manufacturer. So what product am I talking about? The venerable Wooden Field Rake.My first memories of the wooden rake go back to my teenage days when I would frequent Wrigley Field in the 1970s. As I studied the ground crew, watching what they were doing, I noticed they were finessing their way around the infield skin with these wooden rakes — smoothing and grooming the skin to perfection.Beacon AthleticsFast forward to 1985. That was the year I joined the Baltimore Orioles as the assistant head groundskeeper. I was elated to find out they, too, were using the same wooden rakes — and everyone guarded their own rakes. It was very personal. You didn’t mess with each other’s rake. Each person would put some type of identification on the rake to let others know to keep their mitts off it. I found this phenomenon comical at first, but I very quickly fell in love with the wooden rake and became very protective of my rake.

Most importantly, I discovered how awesome these rakes were for maintaining a field. First, they’re lightweight, which makes them easier to maneuver while causing less fatigue. When you flip the rake over to float an area, you have a nice wooden float that does the trick — much easier and more precise than the thin edge of an aluminum rake. Plus, if you need a narrower grooming rake — like when prepping to inlay pieces of sod — you can easily remove a few teeth to make the rake as narrow as you need it to be. They’re great for use on any part of the infield skin, the warning track or even for removing aeration cores in the turf after aerification. Truth is, we had a couple aluminum rakes, but they were rarely used. Instead, we all preferred the versatile wooden rake.

Beacon Athletics

When I left the Orioles, I immediately introduced the wooden rake to Beacon Athletics and it became a mainstay of our field maintenance tools for many years. That is, until our supplier’s 100-year-old machine used to manufacture the rake became permanently and irreparably broken.

So, when a new supplier had been found and we were finally able to unveil the wooden rake at the STMA show in Phoenix, I have to admit, even I was blown away at the response. The reaction from groundskeepers was genuine excitement — and some, you might say, were flat-out giddy, including current Orioles Head Groundskeeper Nicole Sherry (pictured below). It may not look like it, but trust me, she IS excited!

Beacon AthleticsOne question that always comes up with the wooden rake is, “won’t they break easily if you toss them around like other tools?” The best way to handle that possibly is to give each crew member their own rake. Much like our Orioles crew, they’ll take ownership over his or her rake, putting markings or tape uniquely on the handle to identify it as “theirs”. They’ll want to take care it to keep it in top shape and won’t be quite so cavalier about tossing it around. And if the teeth do break, it’s no problem. Replacing teeth is easy. Just use a 1/4-inch bolt to pop out the broken tooth and tap in a new one (our wooden rake actually ships with 4 replacement teeth).

Beacon Athletics

Over the years, my experience has been when it comes to the wooden rake that roughly half of those who try them absolutely love them, and half prefer to stick with their aluminum rakes. This is definitely an individual preference situation. But much like each carpenter has his or her set of tools they use to craft their woodworking projects, so do groundskeepers. I encourage you to give this timeless finesse tool a try for both yourself and your crew, and find out how you like the classic Wooden Field Rake.

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.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

It’s Never To Late To Save Your Program Money !
Check Out Our Insurance Program Today !

* ( 16 Different Amateur Sports ) *

( Officials, Tournaments, & Facilities ) *

1-800-622-7370

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

www.sadlersports.com/soda

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

“Proudly Serving The USA/Canada 

Since 1981”

www.sportsplexoperators.com

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

“Proudly Serving The USA/Canada 

Since 1981”

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Southside Sports Complex named Small Market Venue of the Year 2018 !

LAKE CITY, Fla. (WCJB) – A sports complex in North Central Florida is being recognized for its facilities.

Southside Sports Complex has been named the Small Market Venue of the Year by the Florida Sports Foundation.

Complex officials say in 2018, they hosted 41 events that brought in more than 50-thousand visitors to Lake City and Columbia County.

The facility helped bring in more than eight-million dollars.

The complex has 30 athletic fields across 146 acres.

It has also hosted multiple state and regional tournaments.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

It’s Never To Late To Save Your Program Money !
Check Out Our Insurance Program Today !

* ( 16 Different Amateur Sports ) *

( Officials, Tournaments, & Facilities ) *

1-800-622-7370

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

www.sadlersports.com/soda

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

“Proudly Serving The USA/Canada 

Since 1981”

www.sportsplexoperators.com

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. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

“Proudly Serving The USA/Canada 

Since 1981”

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THE SUN: Our Friend and Our Enemy ?

Important Info and Tips to Reduce Sun Exposure…

The sun… it’s the center of our Solar System. It’s also the most important source of energy for life here on our earth. To us groundskeepers, the sun is our best friend, but at times it is also our worst enemy.

Beacon AthleticsWe need the sun to help grow our turf and dry our fields. There is nothing more beautiful than a baseball game played when the sun is showering us with warm rays; our grass is emerald green and our ballparks are alive with players and spectators. But always lurking are those skin damaging UV rays that wreak havoc on our skin.

Sun exposure is a highly personal issue for me. I didn’t use sun protection for most of my professional career. Sunscreen wasn’t pushed as hard back in the 1980s and 90s so I never developed good sunscreen habits.

Additionally, I never wore hats (on a balding head) or sunglasses. Now I’m paying for it as I was already treated for my first skin cancer in 2017, and I’m sure it is only the beginning. I’m at a higher risk now and I have changed my bad habits when I’m in the sun, but the damage is likely done. And, remember: it’s cumulative. So the older you are, the higher the probability of contracting some form of skin cancer. I wanted to share my lessons to other groundskeepers to help you and your crew stay protected.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States and the groundskeeping profession is especially vulnerable. Besides the overwhelming amount of time spent working out in the sun, there are plenty of other factors that can also help increase the risk of contracting this form of cancer.

Who is at greatest risk?

  • Non-Latino Caucasians have the highest risk, yet all nationalities/races are susceptible
  • Those with fair skin, freckles, numerous moles, blonde or red hair and blue, green or grey eyes
  • Those with a history of numerous sunburns, especially if blistering occurred on any of them
  • If you have a family member who has had skin cancer, specifically Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)
  • People who use tanning beds, which have been labeled “carcinogenic” by the World Health Organization
  • Those with an autoimmune disease
  • Those who smoke or chew tobacco
  • If you have already had skin cancer, your risk increases
  • If you live at higher elevations or in tropical climates

Beacon Athletics Sun Exposure Table


Fortunately, skin cancer is one of the most preventable cancers. Below are ways you can reduce your exposure to damaging UV rays.

Tips for Reducing Sun Exposure

Beacon Athletics Sun Exposure Table

  • Wear as much protective clothing as possible — long sleeve shirts and long pants provide a ton of protection.
  • During the hours between 9am and 4 pm, wear a wide brimmed hat instead of a baseball cap to protect your head, neck and ears from the most intense midday rays.
  • Whenever possible, get your crews onto the field early before the sun gets too intense and then put them under cover during midday hours to avoid the rays.
  • Your eyes are just as much at risk for damage as your skin. Be sure to wear sunglasses, or better yet, safety glasses that are also sunglasses to protect your eyes from the sun.
  • Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 to 50. These will block 97 to 98 % of the harmful UV rays. Use a minimum of 1 oz of sunscreen each time you apply and do so 15 minutes before heading out into the sun. Be sure to reapply FAITHFULLY every 90 minutes that you are out in the sun. Make a habit of using it every day, even when it’s cloudy out.

You may have noticed in the Beacon Athletics master catalog that we carry products for protecting you and your crew from the dangerous effects of the sun. These products include a variety of sunscreen lotions, sprays and lip balm. We also have several models of sun protection safety glasses to protect you and your crew’s eyes.Whether you use Beacon’s crew safety products or have a different go-to for sun exposure items, please stay covered and stay protected.

View Crew Safety Products

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.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

It’s Never To Late To Save Your Program Money !
Check Out Our Insurance Program Today !

* ( 16 Different Amateur Sports ) *

( Officials, Tournaments, & Facilities ) *

1-800-622-7370

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

www.sadlersports.com/soda

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

“Proudly Serving The USA/Canada 

Since 1981”

www.sportsplexoperators.com

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

“Proudly Serving The USA/Canada 

Since 1981”

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Clermont City Council approves 250-acre Olympus sports complex !

Project expected to create 5,000 jobs, generate $1.4 billion in 10 years !

CLERMONT, Fla.Clermont City Council members approved plans May 14 to build a sprawling 243-acre complex called Olympus, that will include multi-sport training venues, a wellness center and more.

Last August, city leaders got their first chance to look at plans to develop the area currently undeveloped in south Lake County, along Route 27 near Lake Louisa State Park.

According to the most recent plans for Olympus, the property will include multi-sport competition and training venues for collegiate, professional and elite athletes; featuring sports celebrities, legendary coaches and global sports brands/properties.

A wellness center will include leading-edge wellness, fitness and sports medicine facilities for athletes, individuals, families, businesses and the local community, with fitness trails, a state-of-the-art fitness and health club and spa.

People who travel to train or watch competitions at Olympus will be able to stay at “World-class hospitality” venues and experience “dining, shopping and office/conference venues … featuring premier restaurant brands, unique retail brands, leading hotel/resort brands and more,” according to the news release.

map_1534971854598.png
An outline map of the Olympus Sports Complex

The city’s economic development director has been working with developers on the Olympus sports complex for two years.

The project is expected to create 5,000 jobs and generate $1.4 billion in local economic impact in 10 years.

“Olympus aligns perfectly with our Choice of Champions brand and our reputation as a world-class haven for athletes,” Clermont City Manager Darren Gray said. “This is a historic moment for Clermont, and the City Council’s unanimous approval reflects their enthusiastic endorsement of Olympus.”

The five-phase project is expected to get underway this year and be finished by 2025.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

It’s Never To Late To Save Your Program Money !
Check Out Our Insurance Program Today !

* ( 16 Different Amateur Sports ) *

( Officials, Tournaments, & Facilities ) *

1-800-622-7370

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

www.sadlersports.com/soda

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

“Proudly Serving The USA/Canada 

Since 1981”

www.sportsplexoperators.com

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

“Proudly Serving The USA/Canada 

Since 1981”

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The Real Cost of Sports Field Maintenance Products !

The Real Cost of Sports Field

Maintenance Products !

Streamliner field chalkerAs the person in charge of buying your sports field maintenance products, you are probably naturally drawn toward selecting the lowest-priced product available. After all, who doesn’t love a deal? I get that. We’re all on limited budgets. But, it’s also important to look at the down-the-road impact those decisions may have on your sports fields.It’s easy to think you’re making a sound financial decision when you purchase the cheapest product, but that’s because you’re only considering the short term cost. The impact a low-cost product can have on your grounds crew or on your field is eye opening. Often, when people see a big upfront cost, they shut down that product from further consideration — without doing their due diligence to see if it’s worth the price in the long haul. That’s a mistake, and I’ll show you why.Let me give some real world examples from our experience at our three-field Little League complex in Madison, Wisconsin.

EXAMPLE 1 — Mound Clay

beaconOf the three fields at our complex, one is a 90′ diamond used by youth aged 13 – 16 years old, all of whom wear metal cleats. Games are played 7 days a week (2-to-3 games/weeknight and 5-to-7 games/weekend), 20 weeks per year and only one opportunity per day to maintain the mound and batter’s boxes. We have used standard bagged mound clay for years and usually blew through one half to one bag of clay per day. The mounds are kept sufficiently moist and are covered whenever not in use to maintain moisture content. The standard mound clay performed satisfactorily, and I never received any complaints except from my crew repairing them. This year we decided to try professional grade clay with higher clay content and the most expensive of all mound clays on our field where metal cleats are used. The results were astounding. The amount of damage to the clay areas each night decreased by more than 70%!! The amount of clay required to repair the mound and plate also plummeted by approximately the same amount as well. In addition, we saved tremendously with labor due to the reduction of repair needed. In the end, we had less labor costs in repairing the clay areas because of the reduced wear and we needed far less clay to repair when we did. We anticipate that we can reduce our clay consumption by at least 50% for next year. These savings far outpaced the increase in cost for the product AND we actually provided a better and more stable playing surface for the player!

EXAMPLE 2 — Pitching Rubbers

Pitching rubbers and home plates in recent decades have had their rubber ingredients tweaked as costs for raw materials have increased during that time. The result is product that just doesn’t last or perform like those from a few decades back, and need to be replaced more often. Sure, they are cheap or more affordable but they wear, bubble or deform much more quickly. The problem is that it’s not always easy to do a quick change of either of these on a ball diamond. Especially if one doesn’t do it frequently or has never done it before. So labor hours are sacrificed in order to change them out each time. Compare that to the high quality Bulldog home plates and pitching rubbers that are thicker rubber and structurally more sound. People shy away from them due to their cost, but their longevity and performance far outweigh the upfront cost of the product. Plus, you also save considerably on labor since replacement is needed less frequently. To me, it’s a no-brainer.

EXAMPLE 3 — Dry Line Markers (chalkers) 

beaconThere are many chalkers options, ranging from inexpensive and more expensive. Again, it’s very tempting to just look at the price tag and never consider performance or even potential savings. The Streamliner field chalkers are amongst the more expensive dry line markers on the market, yet you can actually save big money with this machine despite its initial price tag. Thanks to the Streamliner’s “variable flow adjustment”, you can control how much chalk you are applying to the field. Most chalkers are either open or closed and offer no adjustments. Because of the Streamliner’s ability to control chalk flow, customers routinely report a 30% to 50% reduction of chalk, resulting in huge savings in chalk purchases over the life of a Streamliner. In addition, the quality of the line applied is unparalleled in the industry. Again the extra dollars on the initial investment amounts to huge savings in the long haul, with all the benefits of performance (see our chalker comparison Field Tests for more).

These are just a few select examples of what I’ve seen during my time as a groundskeeper. The moral of the story is one you’ve heard before — you really do get what you pay for. Do your due diligence when considering ALL of your equipment and material purchases. It is your job and obligation as the field manager to truly manage your budgets in the most efficient way possible, resulting in the best return on investment for your organization. Do the math, do the research, collect and analyze the data, and THEN make the purchase. The most expensive product is not always the solution and won’t always fit your application. There are times that a moderately- or low-priced product absolutely makes more sense than a higher priced or higher quality product. This is where your research and data will help you determine the right choice.

Money is a terrible thing to waste… do your best avoid costly mistakes by finding the best fit the first time.

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.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

It’s Never To Late To Save Your Program Money !
Check Out Our Insurance Program Today !

* ( 16 Different Amateur Sports ) *

( Officials, Tournaments, & Facilities ) *

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Tips for Leagues Who Maintain Their Own Facilities !

Tips for Leagues Who Maintain

Their Own Facilities !

▶ If You Can Dream It…

Beacon Athletics for Little LeaguesOver the past 16 years I’ve been helping a local little league in southern Wisconsin improve their facilities. We have greatly strengthened the health of the league in the process. Much of what we have done are things that can easily be replicated by any organization. But it all comes down to having a board of directors interested in making the league — and its facility — the best it can be. It requires people with good organizational skills, good operational skills, and at least one person who is a dreamer. Someone to lookout into the future and imagine what is possible for an organization to achieve.

Don’t be afraid to lead. It really starts with leadership. Too often, leagues are run by boards that are pretty transient. Board members come and go frequently as their kids become involved but then grow out of the league. Many times, some of these members are only serving on the board for their own personal reasons, i.e., their own child. But a board must serve the common good for the entire league. What I have found to be most successful is having the majority of the board made up of people who no longer have kids in the program. They provide stability in the organization, and they serve more for the community’s interests than for their own child. They tend to stay involved for longer periods of time making it easier to stay the course with long term planning. It is okay to have a percentage of your board made up of current parents of players but, if possible, I would recommend trying to keep your mix with at least half being non-current parents.

Get the organization itself, organized. A league must be run like a business. And a good business knows where its money is coming from and where it is going to. If your league doesn’t have a budget yet, then it is time to get busy and make one. Without a budget, it is pretty hard to plan for future upgrades to the league and its facility. The more detailed the budget, the easier it is to plan for the future. Our league was not operating under a budget when I joined them. Now we have full control of our costs and can clearly plan our expenses. A couple of budget lines we find useful are emergency funds and facility upgrades. We can put defined revenue into the proper budget category thereby helping it to become reality.

Have a long-range plan. It will set the tone for the organization. A long-range plan creates targets to which the organization can aim for. As you achieve each target, it gives the organization a sense of accomplishment. It proves to the membership that the organization is moving forward. And, as you achieve each target, a project is crossed off the list and you begin to set your sights for the next target. The long-range plan should be a 3- to 5-year living document that is revisited once a year to insure that the priorities are in proper alignment. These targets can be moved as priorities or needs change. This is a crucial steering document for an organization. No more flying from the seat of your pants.

▶ Remember, Everyone Really Does Want a Nice Facility

Healthy revenue streams are a must. When I first enlisted my son into the Little League I would later get involved with, I was shocked at how cheap it was. They were charging a low price for the opportunity for kids to play but in exchange, they allowed the fields and facility to fall into some disrepair. Here’s a news flash: Parents want to send their kids to nice facilities and they are willing to pay what is reasonable. As long as parents see that your organization is putting money back into the facility and it is improving, you will rarely ever get complaints about increasing registration costs as long as they are within reason. Registration revenue now accounts for almost 50% of total revenue for the typical organization. Because of our detailed budgeting, we are able to use scholarships to pay for families who can’t afford the registration fee. No child who is interested in playing in our league is ever turned away. In fact, we provide between 70 to 100 full and partial scholarships a year at our facility.

Concessions sales account for 26% of total revenue. Just like in professional ballparks, concessions are a key revenue stream. A captive audience gets hungry and thirsty. It’s an easy sell, and a good concessions manager can optimize your sales with timely specials, reasonable profit margins and a good variety of quality food during the long season. Concessionaires can keep things fresh with new ideas and opportunities available for increasing revenues.

Fundraising accounts for 22% of our revenue stream. We try several small fundraising events throughout the year and when their revenues are added together at the end, they amount to a sizable revenue stream. Most of this money is budgeted towards standard operational expenses. For larger projects requiring greater funding, a separate plan needs to be drafted spelling out the scope of the project, what it will cost, and how the funds will be raised. Be prepared to have at least 70% of those you approach for donations, say “no.” Don’t take that personally, the project just didn’t fit their interests. When you do get larger donations, celebrate the victory and use that feeling to channel your energy forward until your goal is reached. Use a four-pronged attack to raising the money: approach charitable foundations, local businesses, league alumni, and current membership.

▶ The Results Will Be Rewarding

Back in 2002, 815 Kids were playing in the program. The organization was working with yearly revenue of just under $150,000 back then. After 10 years in 2012, the program more than doubled to 1,708 kids who were able to enjoy our little league program. Gross revenue for the organization in 2012 was $480,000. Over the same period from 2002 to 2012 over $600,000 were invested in important facility upgrades and enhancements.

I remember very well that day back in 2002 when our Little League board scoffed after I presented my first 10-page long-range plan for increasing our revenues and improving the facility. They didn’t believe it could be done. Sometimes, it just takes a dreamer. That famous line from that classic baseball movie is actually true — “If you build it, they will come.”

Beacon Athletics

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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It’s Never To Late To Save Your Program Money !
Check Out Our Insurance Program Today !

* ( 16 Different Amateur Sports ) *

( Officials, Tournaments, & Facilities ) *

1-800-622-7370

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

www.sadlersports.com/soda

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

“Proudly Serving The USA/Canada 

Since 1981”

www.sportsplexoperators.com

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“Proudly Serving The USA/Canada 

Since 1981”

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Setting Base Anchors !

Setting Base Anchors !

1. Create concrete anchors.

A. Build three forms. Each form will require (2) 15″ long 2x4s; (2) 18″ long 2x4s; and (1) 18″ x 18″ piece of ½” plywood or OSB board. Nail, screw and/or glue the pieces together as shown in Drawing 1. When finished, the inside of the box should be 15″ x 15″, the same size as your base.

B. Position the anchor on the “X”. Using a chalk line or a pencil and straight edge, draw straight lines from corner to corner on the inside bottom of the form making an “X” (see Drawing 2). Take your anchor (1″ or 1 ½”) and center it on that “X” so that the sides of the anchor are parallel to the sides of the wooden form. Be sure that the flared end of the anchor is at the bottom of the form box.

C. Fill with concrete. Mix an 80 lb bag of Redi-Mix concrete as directed on the package. You’ll need someone to help you by holding the base anchor in position. Fill the form to the top with the concrete mix and allow one day to cure.

[Drawings 1 & 2: Diagrams of a concrete anchor form.]

2. Locate the base anchor positions on your field.

(Assuming home plate is in place and a centerline can be established on the field)

A. Find the center of 2nd Base. With the centerline in place, refer to our Field Dimensions Diagrams to find the correct infield hypotenuse dimension (letter “C” on the diagram) for size field on which you will be installing the base anchors. Measure with a steel measuring tape from the point of home plate following along the centerline to the distance indicated for the Infield Hypotenuse [C]. Place a tarp pin or nail at that exact spot on the centerline. This is the center of 2nd base.

B. Measure to 1st Base. Measure from the 2nd base pin the required base distance [A] where 1st base will be positioned (again, reference our Field Dimensions Diagrams). At the same time, use a second steel tape measure to measure from the point of home plate the required base distance to 1st base. Where the two tape measures come together to form a right angle, set another tarp pin or nail. This is the back foul corner of 1st base.

C. Measure to 3rd Base. Now repeat the process to position 3rd base. Measure from the 2nd base pin the proper base distance to 3rd base. Again, using a second tape, measure from the point of home plate to 3rd base and where the tape measures meet to form a right angle is where you place your tarp pin or nail. This is the back foul corner of 3rd base.

D. Make sure it’s accurate. Measure the hypotenuse from the 1st base pin to the 3rd base pin. This is the same as the home plate to 2nd base hypotenuse. If these are not equal, you need to re-measure all of your base locations. Once the 1st-to- 3rd and home-to-2nd distances match, your base locations are accurately marked.

3. Install 1st & 3rd base anchors.

A. String it up, dig a hole. Run a string line up the foul edge of your foul line from the point of home plate to well past 1st or 3rd base pin. This string line should just touch the foul side of your 1st or 3rd base pin. To be installed correctly, the base should cover up the foul line as it runs under the base. Next, excavate an area about 2′ square in the area where the base should be located (see Drawing 3). Excavate knowing the pins you set indicate the back foul corner of the base. Since most metal anchors are about 8″ long, your 2 x 2 hole for the anchor should be 8 ½” to 8 ¾” deep. The top of the anchor post should always be ½” to ¾” below the surface so it is never caught when nail dragging. Make sure that the bottom of the hole is level and well compacted.

[Drawing 3: Cutaway of base anchor installation depth.]

B. Place the anchor. Remove one of the concrete anchors from its form by turning it upside down and pounding the form with a rubber mallet to loosen. Make sure that there is no concrete inside the steel anchor post. If necessary, clear out the excess concrete for drainage purposes. Place the concrete anchor in the hole. Check your depth by spanning a 2×4 across the hole like a bridge and over the anchor post. There should be a gap of ½” to ¾” from the top of the anchor post to the bottom of your 2×4 bridge. If not, remove the anchor and correct the sub-grade accordingly.

C. Is it level? Once your depth is set, make sure the anchor is level. Use a torpedo level on the sides of the anchor post. If necessary, adjust the grade under the concrete anchor until it is level.

D. Position the anchor accurately. Using the string line as your guide, maneuver the anchor so one edge of the concrete is on the string line, the back foul corner of the concrete is where your pin was placed, and the rest of the concrete is on the “fair side” of your string (see Drawing 4). Again, measure from the point of home plate to the back foul corner of the concrete anchor to ensure correct base placement. You may place a base in the anchor to make for easier measuring. After adjusting your concrete anchor accordingly for correct placement, recheck for levelness and proper depth. Adjust if needed.

E. Bury the anchor. When all three parameters are met (distance, depth, level), the anchor can be buried. Add soil a couple inches at a time compacting thoroughly before adding the next couple inches. Continue until the level of soil in the excavated area matches the grade of the surrounding infield skin. Compact the soil, then moisten and apply topdressing if used.

[Drawing 4: Distance from home plate to 1st base.]
[Drawing 5: Distance from 1st base to 2nd base.]

4. Install 2nd base anchor.

A. Dig a hole, level it out. The 2nd base pin you placed marks the base’s exact center. Therefore, just excavate 1′ out in all directions from the base pin to get your 2′ square area. Then follow the same process of excavation and leveling as you did in Step 3 with the 1st and 3rd base anchors.

B. Find the exact center of 2nd base. Place the concrete anchor in the hole. Stretch your steel measuring tapes from the back foul corners of both 1st and 3rd base toward 2nd base. Where the two tapes meet forming a right angle at the proper base distance (letter “A” in our Field Dimensions Diagrams) is the exact center of 2nd base. Center the anchor post at that point (see Drawing 5), making sure the sides of the concrete anchor are parallel to the foul lines.

C. Bury the anchor. When all three parameters are met (distance, depth and level), the anchor can be buried, just as you buried the 1st and 3rd base anchors.

5. Test each base, troubleshoot if necessary.

With the anchors now in place, test them by installing the bases to see how they sit on the infield skin surface. The base will sit tight to the skin surface with no gaps under the base. If you see gaps from the base sitting up too high, troubleshoot these common installation problems:

  • The steel anchor post is not level (plumb), which means the base will not sit level on the surface.
  • The infield skin is not finish graded nice and level, and it does not match the surrounding grade causing low areas around the base.
  • How old are your bases? With older bases, it is possible the bottom edges may be curled up — especially on the corners.

All of these problems present a risk to the players. If a base isn’t sitting properly and tight to the infield skin, there is a chance players could be injured when sliding into or running over the bases. You should correct these conditions immediately to reduce or eliminate the risk.

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It’s Never To Late To Save Your Program Money !
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* ( 16 Different Amateur Sports ) *

( Officials, Tournaments, & Facilities ) *

1-800-622-7370

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www.sadlersports.com/soda

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“Proudly Serving The USA/Canada 

Since 1981”

www.sportsplexoperators.com

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New foods earn roster spots in South Bend Cubs’ lineup !

If Four Winds Field at Coveleski Stadium rewrote “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” the lyrics “buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack” could be replaced with “buy me some churros and loaded tots.”

Like most minor league teams, the South Bend Cubs curates its own culinary creations. Each new season is a chance to bring something new and unique to fans by adding to their carefully cultivated squad of dietary delights.

“Overall, this is probably one of our smallest concession swaps over menus from season to season,” executive chef Josh Farmer says about the shakeups in this year’s concession lineup. “… Really, we’re trying to find that happy medium of being able to offer something for everyone and not take away something that somebody already loves.”

Like any good coach, Farmer was careful when shaking up his squad with new foods for this season.

“We don’t want it to be so far out of left field that it makes no sense for it to be on our menu,” he says. “We want it to be cool and unique. It’s not worth doing something if they can already get it somewhere else.”

With a decent scouting report, after having been a featured item during a homestand last year, loaded tater tots earned a permanent position on Farmer’s roster this season.

“French fries are great,” the chef says, “but tots are where it’s at for me. … I’ve always preferred a tater tot over a french fry. They’re super versatile, and, for me, it brings back memories of a good childhood.”

The potato-based dish is covered in nacho cheese, chili, bacon and scallions. Fans are then able to add jalapeños or onions and other garnishes depending on their preference.

Burgertopia — located behind Section 105 on the first base side of the concourse — now features an Italian sausage sandwich with grilled peppers and onions.

On the sweet side, one of Farmer’s most promising rookies this season is the churro doughnut.

“It’s a cinnamon-sugar churro that is formed into a doughnut,” he says. “It has the signature ridges of a churro.”

The idea for the dessert item came from Farmer’s own family.

“In recent years, me and my wife and my daughter, we’ve kind of become Disney nuts,” he says. “So every year that we go there, my daughter (makes sure) the first thing we do is get a churro. She craves them every year, so that’s kind of a personal thing for me. It’s kind of cool to bring that here.”

The chef made plenty of churros while working in a Spanish restaurant in Indianapolis. It’s no surprise that the crispy-on-the-outside, still-warm-on-the-inside pastry covered in cinnamon and sugar is a delicious treat during a cool Sunday afternoon doubleheader, rare as those may be in today’s game.

As the days turn warmer, fans can add ice cream to their churro or to an elephant ear at the stadium’s new “Sweet Spot.” A go-to place for desserts, the new concession is behind home plate on the concourse.

“So it’s just novelty specialty desserts, things like that,” Farmer says. “That was something that we kind of had in little pockets around the park, but it didn’t really have a home, necessarily. We wanted to give it a home, do some cool and unique things.”

The new items will join a number of already established favorites unique to the stadium, such as the Philly Cheesesteak nachos. The stadium started serving the fan favorite when the team started its first season as the Cubs.

“Those things pretty much have a following of their own,” Farmer says. “We could probably start a Facebook page for them or an Instagram following for them. … They’re super simple, but it just works. It’s just one of those items that all of those (ingredients) just work together very, very well. It’s a home run for us.”

For more than a decade, minor league baseball teams have made names for themselves with their culinary creations. One of the first, if not the first food items to garner the attention of baseball fans and foodies was the Krispy Kreme Burger introduced in 2006 by the Gateway Grizzlies in Sauget, Ill.

That bacon cheeseburger uses a Krispy Kreme doughnut as a bun and is touted as “Baseball’s Best Burger.” It was introduced into the Frontier League Hall of Fame last year.

The Cubs — like all minor league teams — will continue to serve classic baseball foods such as hot dogs and popcorn, but those looking for a little adventure on their ballpark menus are going to find it.

“It’s just a unique way to bring people out to the ballpark,” Farmer says, “especially with a minor league team.”

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It’s Never To Late To Save Your Program Money !
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* ( 16 Different Amateur Sports ) *

( Officials, Tournaments, & Facilities ) *

1-800-622-7370

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

www.sadlersports.com/soda

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

“Proudly Serving The USA/Canada 

Since 1981”

www.sportsplexoperators.com

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

“Proudly Serving The USA/Canada 

Since 1981”

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