The SODA Blog

The official blog of the Sportsplex Operators & Developers Association

Here are all the new food offerings at Soldier Field for the Bears’ 100th season !

Here are all the new food offerings at Soldier Field for the Bears’ 100th season !

Here are all the new food offerings at Soldier Field for the Bears’ 100th season
Souvenir nacho bowl, which will be sold at Bears games this season. (Erin Hooley / Chicago Tribune)

At first glance, the Hot Bob sandwich — one of the new food offerings available to Bears fans at Soldier Field concession stands this season, unveiled by the team Monday — is just an ordinary school-cafeteria sloppy Joe.

But take a bite and you’ll soon realize there’s just enough ghost chile in the seasoned beef with fried onion to take it to the head of the class of 2019 additions to the stadium menu.

The Hot Bob sandwich (beef seasoned with ghost chile and fried onions) was previewed Monday at Soldier Field.
The Hot Bob sandwich (beef seasoned with ghost chile and fried onions) was previewed Monday at Soldier Field. (Erin Hooley / Chicago Tribune)

Hot dogs, pizza and chicken tenders are sure to remain the big sellers at Bears games, as always. But every year concessionaire Aramark attempts to jazz things up with new items.

In addition to the Hot Bob, new items include the Lightlife’s plant-based burger and what’s touted as the Lake Shore Drive Hoagie, which is based on a South Side favorite, combining gyro meat, Italian Beef and corned beef with Tzatziki sauce, giardiniera and tomato.

Lake Shore Drive Hoagie, a version of the Jim Shoe sandwich, with sliced gyro meat, corned beef, Italian beef with a mix of Tzatziki sauce, giardiniera relish and tomatoes on a sesame hoagie roll.
Lake Shore Drive Hoagie, a version of the Jim Shoe sandwich, with sliced gyro meat, corned beef, Italian beef with a mix of Tzatziki sauce, giardiniera relish and tomatoes on a sesame hoagie roll. (Erin Hooley / Chicago Tribune)
Lightlife's plant-based burger, which will be sold at Soldier Field at Bears games this season.
Lightlife’s plant-based burger, which will be sold at Soldier Field at Bears games this season. (Erin Hooley / Chicago Tribune)

Like some Bears games, not everything turns out as hoped.

A Nashville-style fried chicken sandwich introduced to great fanfare last year enjoyed an initial surge in interest, but appetite for it dropped off by season’s end. It’s not available this year, supplanted by a crispy chicken sandwich with bacon that will have to prove it can fly.

Here are photos of more of the food available at Soldier Field this Bears season.

A crispy chicken sandwich with bacon, white cheddar, herb remoulade, pickles, lettuce and tomato will be sold at Soldier Field this season.
A crispy chicken sandwich with bacon, white cheddar, herb remoulade, pickles, lettuce and tomato will be sold at Soldier Field this season. (Erin Hooley / Chicago Tribune)
a slow-roasted prime rib sandwich, which will be sold at Soldier Field for Bears games this season.
a slow-roasted prime rib sandwich, which will be sold at Soldier Field for Bears games this season. (Erin Hooley / Chicago Tribune)
Prime rib and turkey pastrami, which will be sold at Soldier Field for Bears games this season.
Prime rib and turkey pastrami, which will be sold at Soldier Field for Bears games this season. (Erin Hooley / Chicago Tribune)
Aramark chef Tom Elder addresses the media at Monday's food preview at Soldier Field.
Aramark chef Tom Elder addresses the media at Monday’s food preview at Soldier Field. (Erin Hooley / Chicago Tribune)
Barbecue wings, which will be sold at Soldier Field for Bears games this season.
Barbecue wings, which will be sold at Soldier Field for Bears games this season. (Erin Hooley / Chicago Tribune)

A Labor Day Salute to Groundskeepers. !

A Labor Day Salute to Groundskeepers. !

“I salute you ! Beacon Athletics salutes you !…”

With the Labor Day holiday approaching, I wanted to take a few minutes and extend a personal shout-out to all the hardworking ballfield groundskeepers.

Thanks to Twitter and Facebook, the fantasy of a “part-time groundskeeper” has been exposed — that idea of showing up for work at 3 pm to mow the grass and paint and chalk the fields before the evening game is not realistic. There is now a much better public understanding and appreciation of the hours upon hours you spend maintaining your fields no matter the weather, no matter the day. Many of you worked through many weekends and summer holidays, while missing countless family events and activities. Many worked seemingly endless days in a row with only a handful of hours of sleep each night.

As I often remind people, “the grass doesn’t stop growing when the club is on the road or it’s the weekend”. Like farmers, we cultivate the soil and manage our turf crop no matter the weather or conditions thrown at us. We tend to our “living ballfields” as if they were one of our children. We suffer when they suffer. It is truly a labor of love.

I know the long hours. I know the exhaustion. I know the stress. I know the self-applied pressure for perfection. And, I know your concern for and appreciation of your own crew. Your dedication and hard work is enjoyed by millions — by those playing on your fields, fans watching a game at the ballpark, in a stadium, or on TV. It is your work that helps the rest of America relax and enjoy a break from their hard work.

From one groundskeeper to another on Labor Day – I salute you ! Beacon Athletics salutes you !

So, crack open a cold one this weekend, sit back, relax and reflect for a few minutes on all the great work you and your crew performed this season. Your work is appreciated.

View Labor Day Specials

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”

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

A Special Message on Fan Safety from Beacon’s CEO !

Beacon Athletics

The ultimate ballfield resource. It’s all here.

AUGUST 2019

Dear fellow ballfield professionals,

We’ve all seen the horrific headlines, images and stories of fans being struck by errant line drives and foul balls. While fans being injured isn’t necessarily a new phenomenon, that precise fact is really at the heart of the sentiment being expressed by so many in our industry: “why is this continuing to happen?”

Answers typically vary from a reluctance to change the spectator’s view, to cost factors and the challenges of retrofitting netting to existing structures. But something has to be done. The game we love continues to stand at risk of being marred by serious, life-changing injuries to our friends, family and neighbors.

I share your concerns and we stand ready to help you answer the other unrelenting question: “what can we do?”

Now is the time to improve fan safety, and we understand what needs to be done to achieve it. We have outfitted and retrofitted facilities with netting for decades, engineering systems for all levels of play. Together, let’s get this done to ensure all fans can safely enjoy the tradition of watching ballgames for decades to come.

Sincerely,
Message from Beacon CEO
John Maher,
Owner & CEO, Beacon Athletics
608-824-1547

Contact Us          More About Fan Safety

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

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”

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

Panama City Beach, FL. Sports Complex Opens Today !

Panama City Beach Sports Complex Opens Today

July, 2019


Panama City Beach’s new Sports Complex,managed by Sports Facilities Management (SFM), opens today, July 8. The brand-new $37 million complex will offer visitors on ‘play-cation’ a place to enjoy multiple sports and activities on its 13-field complex. The complex is already booked solid for the year with 48 tournaments scheduled between July 2019 and July 2020. Last week it was announced that a new Skate Park will be added to Chip Seal Parkway near the new complex, accessible to all members of the Panama City Beach community.

“Panama City Beach’s new Sports Complex will become the ultimate destination for sports in the southeast,” shares SFM General Manager of the Panama City Beach Sports Complex J.D. Wood. “We can’t wait to welcome athletes from all over the country to experience not only our new world-class facility, but our beautiful beaches and off-the-field activities as well.”

The Panama City Beach Sports Complex will feature nine turf fields, four natural grass fields, dedicated tournament buildings, two championship fields with seating up to 1,500 and over 1,000 parking spots. The complex’s flexible design will allow for soccer, lacrosse, rugby, football, baseball, softball and more. The final construction tasks to be completed include paving the entrance roadway, completing installation of lighting, finishing work on several administrative and concessions buildings, and landscaping.

A 2017 study projected that in its first year of operation, the Panama City Beach Sports Complex will generate $867,000 in gross revenues, or $580,000 in income after expenses. The bookings already confirmed on the complex’s calendar are anticipated to generate 37,000 room nights at hotels in the area, bringing an estimated $13.9 million into Bay County’s economy. Details of the grand opening including special festivities for Bay County residents will be announced soon.

Panama City Beach’s Sports Complex is made possible through a public-private partnership with the Panama City Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau, St. Joe Company and Bay District Schools. More information on the new complex can be found at www.playpanamacitybeach.com. A link of renderings can be found here. If you are interested in booking tournaments or trainings, please contact J.D. Wood at jdwood@sportadvisory.com.

About Panama City Beach: Panama City Beach is situated on 27 miles of sugar-white sand beaches bordering clear, emerald-green waters where the Gulf of Mexico and St. Andrew Bay converge.  With 320 days of sunshine annually and attractions such as St. Andrews State Park and Pier Park, the region has long been favored by travelers seeking an affordable beach vacation with year-round offerings for families, couples, groups and adventure-seekers.  These include championship golf courses, spas, sporting events, award-winning dining and diverse recreational activities. In addition, Panama City Beach’s Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport offers non-stop flights on Delta Airlines, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines. For more information, call 850-233-5070 or visit the official website of the Panama City Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau at http://www.visitpanamacitybeach.com.  Live HD video of the world-famous beach is now available at http://www.visitpanamacitybeach.com/webcam/. Stay connected with Panama City Beach on Twitter (@Visit_PCB), Instagram (@Visit_PCB) and Facebook (@Visit_PCB).

About Panama City Beach Sports Complex: The Panama City Beach Sports Complex is located within the Breakfast Point development and is the premier destination for travel sports tourism in the Florida panhandle. The facility features 13 rectangular fields including nine with artificial surfaces and two championship fields with seating up to 1,500 spectators. The flexible design allows for soccer, lacrosse, rugby, football and flag football, as well as baseball and softball to be played. The Panama City Sports Complex is a facility managed by Sports Facilities Management, LLC. For more information, visit:www.playpanamacitybeach.com

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

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”

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

The Danger of Artificial Turf Warning Tracks !

It’s about safety…

With the increase in artificial turf baseball and softball fields, one issue has really grabbed my attention — Warning Tracks!

Ballfield warning tracks are meant to keep players from getting hurt

Warning tracks have been a part of baseball/softball for decades. They serve a critical purpose in warning players that they are approaching a permanent fixture of some kind. When players are focused on catching a fly ball, they are looking up at the ball, not down at the field.  Fielders rely on a change of texture under foot to alert them that they are approaching immovable barriers along the perimeter of a playing field.

Artificial turf warning tracks don’t have a change of texture, only a change of color, which puts players at risk. A player engrossed in catching a ball is rarely going to think about looking down to see the change of turf color that notifies them they are on the artificial turf warning track and rapidly approaching an obstacle.  And therein lies the problem with the rapid proliferation of artificial turf ballfield.

Changing turf color just isn’t enough

Pretty much all artificial turf fields delineate the warning track by simply changing the color of the artificial turf. Unless a ballplayer is looking down when he approaches the warning track, he or she will have no other way to be warned of a potential collision with the wall. There’s no change in feel, like turf grass to warning track soil — not audible difference when your spikes hit the warning track material. It’s a purely visual difference. If I was a college or high school athletic director, I would be pressuring the artificial turf manufactures for a better solution to warn fielders of the danger. Ultimately, it comes down to those decisionmakers to look out for their players’ safety.

Ideal width of warning tracks

Warning tracks play a key role in the game and in the maintenance and upkeep of a ballfield. The standard rule of thumb for the width of a warning track is to provide a 3-step warning for a player who is running at full speed. This allows one step for the player to realize they are on a different textured surface and two additional steps to decelerate before impacting the solid object such as a fence. Since the age of a player is a fairly good indicator for length of stride at a full out run, use this chart for recommended outfield warning track widths per age group.

WARNING TRACK WIDTH
OLDEST AGE GROUP USING FIELD WIDTH OF WARNING TRACK
10 & under 8′ – 10′
11 – 12 10′ – 12′
13 – 16 12′ – 15′
17 & older 15′ – 18′

 

Warning tracks serve other purposes, too

On natural grass fields, warning tracks not only provide a safety feature to the field but they also provide a marked roadway for maintenance vehicles to travel on instead of on the grass. The correct size/width warning track also allows the foot traffic that exits the dugouts to spread out before stepping foot on the grass thereby reducing turfgrass wear. Warning tracks also reduce or eliminate maintenance of vegetation along and against walls and fences on the perimeter of the field.

But for the sake of player safety, let’s hope that turf manufacturers/installers and athletic directors pay more attention to this issue and address it before too many more faux artificial turf warning tracks are installed.

Learn About Building the Warning Track

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”

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