The SODA Blog

The official blog of the Sportsplex Operators & Developers Association

Des Moines, IA. sports park determined it couldn’t safely open !

story.lead_photo.captionRick Flatts poses for a photo on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021 at Sleepy Hollow sports park in Des Moines, Iowa. For the first time in 27 seasons Sleepy Hollow sports park will not be open for the winter season. 
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DES MOINES, Iowa — The sight of hundreds of people huddling and linking arms before tubing down the 15-story slope at Sleepy Hollow Sports Park in Des Moines startled the longtime owners.

Rick and Mary Flatt were reviewing old photos and videos showing carefree, pre-pandemic crowds to potentially include in new marketing. But the visual reminder of their peak business — 600 people on a good Saturday — made them realize it would be impossible to welcome customers back this winter amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Instead of creating new marketing, the Flatts released a statement: For the first time in 27 years, Sleepy Hollow would not open this season.

“We felt like we would be spending the whole time telling groups that we can’t accommodate them, and we felt there was not enough public self-policing to not put others at risk,” Rick Flatt said. “If we don’t care about how our actions affect other people, that’s how we can completely fail. It’s the consequences of your actions that you should be guided by. And that’s what we were afraid of — that the consequences would be too high.”

Open since 1994, Sleepy Hollow is a favorite east side events venue for families, birthday parties, business outings and church retreats. Besides being a popular year-round sledding and tubing spot, it hosts Renaissance fairs, festivals, comedy shows and concerts.

In 2006, a then-unknown singer named Taylor Swift performed an impromptu show for a crowd of 15 people at the park’s shelter house.

Each fall, the Renaissance Faire Park turns into a Halloween attraction and the surrounding forest becomes a haunted trail.

The Flatts got creative in order to safely continue their business in 2020, even as the pandemic became more dire in Iowa. When the Iowa State Fair was canceled last summer for the first time since World War II, Sleepy Hollow Sports Park hosted a socially distanced East Side Night.

They installed 8-foot plexiglass barriers along picnic tables.

In October, to prevent a line of people from forming outside the haunted forest, they launched an internet radio station that entertained visitors while they waited in their cars until it was their turn to enter the woods.

They also spent more than $3,000 to give each of their employees an air purifier with a HEPA filter to stand near. The business never experienced any covid-19 outbreaks among staff nor to its knowledge among patrons.

The professional actors and performers who work at Sleepy Hollow as jousters, Halloween characters and more are hired by Kevin and Amy Coble, the owners of JoustEvolution and Jester Puppets. Based near Des Moines, they employ up to 100 people for contracted events all around the Midwest.

The Cobles have worked with Sleepy Hollow since it first hosted Renaissance fairs 15 years ago. Last year was the toughest year yet. Only a fraction of their planned performance weekends actually came through, Amy Coble said.

Of all the places the Cobles work, Sleepy Hollow stands out as a supportive, tight-knit community, they said.

“There’s a lot of tradition there,” Amy Coble said. “A lot of people, both entertainers and patrons, have been coming for 15 years or more. They love it, and it’s a family tradition.”

It’s easy to spread out during an outdoor Renaissance fair, mini-golfing and most other activities Sleepy Hollow offers. But unlike skiing and snowboarding, which haven’t been offered at the park for a few years largely due to soaring insurance rates, there’s little inclination to spread out while sledding and tubing, Flatt said.

“The extra kick in the pants this year is that it’s been probably the best weather year we’ve had,” he said.

Staying open “would be a battle where the only losers are the ones who get infected by an asymptomatic person who shouldn’t have been in a big group,” Flatt said. “The big groups are what we are trying to avoid, and the big groups are our customer base.”

The Flatts met at Iowa State University and have been married for 42 years. They have two adult daughters, one of whom works in the local medical field.

“I think if you have somebody in your family who is in the medical community that’s seeing this stuff first-hand, it makes you a little more cognizant of the costs,” Flatt said. “It’s not worth it. We’re going to get through this, hopefully with the people we care about enjoying it with us.”

The park is scheduled to reopen in May. Until then, the owners are using this time to tackle Mary’s to-do list, including renovations inside the ski lodge.

They’re already making plans and have already booked four concerts, three weekends of Renaissance fairs, an Irish festival and a pirate festival — all the eccentric events that people have come to expect at the park.

“The way through this, emotionally, is to plan for better days, to be excited that there are going to be better days, to believe there are going to be better days,” Flatt said. “I think the best days for Sleepy Hollow are ahead of us.”

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(BThe slopes remain empty at Sleepy Hollow sports park on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021 in Des Moines, Iowa. For the first time in 27 seasons Sleepy Hollow sports park will not be open for the winter season. 

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Sleds that are usually rented are seen in the rental center unused at Sleepy Hollow sports park on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021, in Des Moines. For the first time in 27 seasons Sleepy Hollow sports park will not be open for the winter season

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We Can Save You Money In 2021 !

* ( 16 Different Amateur Sports ) *

( Teams, Officials, Tournaments, & Facilities ) *

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“Proudly Serving The USA/Canada 

Since 1981”

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“Proudly Serving The USA/Canada 

Since 1981”

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[[ Available In SODA Store Online !]]

** “STAY SMART ** STAY SAFE” ** STAY HEALTHY **

How sports venues will come back after being ravaged by COVID !

Gil Fried i/s a professor and Chair/Coordinator, Sport Management, M.S. at the University of New Haven,
Gil Fried is a professor and Chair/Coordinator, Sport Management, M.S. at the University of New Haven, CT.

COVID-19 has ravaged the nation and the world. The virus has also ravaged the sports world as seen by all the shortened seasons and canceled games.

One area that has seen significant pain are venues such as stadiums and arenas. Besides all the canceled games, events, and concert, there has been more significant carnage that people often do not anticipate. For example, there are hundreds of thousands of employees who earned their salaries or extra income from working events as parking attendants, ticket takers, ushers, security, and concession stand workers.

Then there are all the businesses that are next to stadiums and arenas such as bars and restaurants that made a significant amount of their revenue on game days. This is only one segment of the sport industry hurt by the virus. There are also sportsplexes, parks, recreation centers, gyms, Yoga, Pilates, boxing, and countless other facilities that have closed or scaled back significantly. Then there are the travel teams, youth sports, personal trainers, coaches and others who have seen their industry come to a halt or slow down.

The sport facility market has been trying to explore best practices moving forward. While some facilities have run with limited fans, it is very difficult to operate with few fans as there still needs to be a full complement of employees to operate the facility. Facilities also need to: provide more frequent cleaning, more personnel to monitor/screen fans, more security, new cooking operations, remove buffets, switch over to condiment packets, etc…. The industry is trying to identify best practices and ways to make a facility safer.

According to one study by an architectural firm early in 2020, there are around 140 touchpoints for fans when they visit a stadium. That means constant cleaning and identifying new cleaning strategies. The cost to effectively clean a sport facility is around $1 per square foot, and some facilities are over 1 million square feet. Who pays for such costs and what happens if a facility needs to be cleaned after an outbreak? That could be a tricky issue for a professional team in a state owned facility. One company developed drones that can fly in a stadium and spray clean the seating bowl while another company has created a UV light on sled to sanitize the playing surface.

Yes, sport facilities are facing issues, but they are also looking at opportunities. Major League Baseball was able to trim 40 minor league teams without much protest, even though Congress had expressed concerns when the plans were raised two years ago. Teams are also looking at ticketless entry to minimize contact. While contact is minimized, it also eliminates scalping and allows teams to control the secondary ticket market more effectively. Facilities are moving to cashless transactions to minimize contact. Such an effort also will reduce the ability for employees to steal. Thus, facilities are using the virus as an opportunity to provide better and more efficient services.

Sports will come back. When fans return to the stands the facilities will be taking significant steps to make sure they are as safe as possible and people should not be scared to come back when allowed. The key will be for people to follow rules. Facilities can have the best rules, and all it takes are some fans who intentionally violate the rules to ruin it for everyone else.

Gil Fried is professor and chairman, Sport Management Department, University of New Haven

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

We Can Save You Money In 2021 !

* ( 16 Different Amateur Sports ) *

( Teams, 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”

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

[[ Available In SODA Store Online !]]

** “STAY SMART ** STAY SAFE” ** STAY HEALTHY **

Panama City Beach Sports Complex starting up local leagues for Spring !

Updated: Jan 22, 2021 

PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) – The Panama City Beach Sports Complex is home to many events and tournaments, but they also are getting the local community out on their fields to play.

The complex is starting up their adult leagues for the spring season.

They will have men’s open slowpitch softball, co-ed softball and co-ed kickball. Anyone ages 16 or older can sign up to compete with a team.

General manager of the complex Jamie Cox said he hopes they can add more sports in the future.

“Maybe we can even run some adult flag football down the road. But we wanna do that to provide another outlet for people in the community to come out and have a good time and recreate with everyone and just enjoy the beautiful complex that we have,” Cox said.

The sports complex has done leagues like this for the community before, but last spring had to put a halt to their spring ones due to COVID-19. They finished out the spring season for those teams in the fall.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

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

We Can Save You Money In 2021 !

* ( 16 Different Amateur Sports ) *

( Teams, 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”

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

[[ Available In SODA Store Online !]]

** “STAY SMART ** STAY SAFE” ** STAY HEALTHY **

The Field Opening Checklist 2021 !

The Field Opening Checklist 2021 !

There are dozens of critical tasks for a groundskeeper to complete to open a field. We’ve boiled down the list to the most important things you should remember to do for efficiently reopening your field.


THE FIELD OPENING CHECKLIST

▢   Charge and reinstall all batteries for motorized equipment

▢   Inspect, repair or replace netting and padding on all screens

▢   Inspect last year’s bases and dispose of or replace any heavily worn bases

▢   Clean up any remaining fall/winter debris from along ballfield fence lines

▢   Replace any badly faded, worn or torn outfield advertisement banners

▢   Install backstop padding, dugout bat racks and helmet racks

▢   Hoist backstop nets, batting cage nets and soft-toss nets

▢   Turn on water to facility – Test irrigation system

▢   Renovate all mounds (tables, front slopes and new topdressing application

▢   Renovate all home plate areas (releveling batter’s and catcher’s boxes with clay and leveling home plate circle) and redress with new topdressing

▢   Relevel 1st and 3rd baselines and topdress

▢   Relevel infields and topdress as needed

▢   Relevel warning track and walkups (if track material is available)

▢   Apply crabgrass preventer

▢   Make sure mower is set to only cut one-third length of grass blades

▢   Check any field lighting and scoreboard operation and replace bulbs

▢   Hoist Flags

▢   Distribute picnic tables, garbage and recycling receptacles

▢   Update missing or faded signage, add new signs as needed


DOWNLOAD PRINTABLE PDF

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

We Can Save You Money In 2021 !

* ( 16 Different Amateur Sports ) *

( Teams, 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”

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

[[ Available In SODA Store Online !]]

** “STAY SMART ** STAY SAFE” ** STAY HEALTHY **

 

 

Chicago reveals Surge, a funhouse-like e-sports arena complete with outdoor IMAX screen !

January 10, 2021

The $30 million project, located at 2500 S Wabash Ave, will be appropriately referred to as “Surge.”

Chicago, IL. – Scott Greenberg, the real estate developer behind EMC2, theWit, and other swanky hotels in downtown Chicago, recently unveiled plans for his latest and most avant-garde project: Surge, a 106,000-square-foot professional e-sports arena, complete with an IMAX-sized screen embedded in the facade.

As the pandemic forces us to stay home and keep ourselves entertained, there has been a massive surge in the video game industry. Gaming has provided self-isolated consumers with a much-needed sense of comfort, connection, diversion, and escape. E-sports in particular have evolved in recent years from a niche hobby into a multi-billion-dollar industry. Virtual tournaments attract millions of advertisers, investors, and universities—some of which are doling out e-sports scholarships to prospective, tech-savvy students, and purpose-built arenas have been popping up across the country.

Taking advantage of the electronic age, Greenberg’s development firm, EDC, partnered with Chicago-based virtual reality gaming company, MassVR, to transform a derelict Near South Side property into Chicago’s first e-sports stadium dedicated to professional video game competitions.

The $6.8 million site, located along Interstate 55 and neighboring McCormick Place convention center, will include a parking lot, a brick building that once housed a Kozy’s bicycle shop, and a promenade of modern, geometric structures designed by KOO, an architecture and interiors firm native to Chicago. The venue’s proximity to McCormick Place and Illinois Tech, which has a vigorous e-sports program, will likely create a player pipeline to keep Surge occupied. Convention show attendees and college students could generate a lot of demand for the space post-COVID, as large gatherings could resume by the end of 2021 as vaccine distribution continues to ramp up. Surge has the potential to put Chicago on the map in the e-sports and virtual entertainment worlds, acting as a hub and international networking site.

Rendering of a key-shaped arena, the surge
The arena will include a broadcasting center, stadium seating, and a stage for video gamers to compete. 

The $30 million project at 2500 S Wabash Ave will house a two-story, 25,000-square-foot free-roam space and arena, large enough to accommodate crowds of over 800 people for major events. The arena component will also include a global broadcasting center, stadiumseating, and a stage for professional gamers to compete and interact with one another using state-of-the-art, virtual reality equipment, Greenberg told the Chicago Tribune. The focal point of the arena will be an enormous 35-by-85-foot vertical screen on the complex’s exterior, complete with high-quality sound effects, allowing guests outside (and possibly neighbors and passerby_ to immerse themselves in the action, IMAX-style. A lounge, bar, and restaurant will sit adjacent to the arena, where guests can grab a bite to eat and converse in a more intimate setting.

The project will undergo a Chicago Plan Commission meeting this month for rezoning requests that require City Council approval. The developers hope to begin construction by this summer, with plans to open doors to the public by summer 2022.

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

We Can Save You Money In 2021 !

* ( 16 Different Amateur Sports ) *

( Teams, 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”

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

[[ Available In SODA Store Online !]]

** “STAY SMART ** STAY SAFE” ** STAY HEALTHY **