Developing Steen Sports Park – A Big Park for a Small City. !

Klamath Falls, OR – “A big park for a small city” is how Scott White and Mike Reeder like to describe Steen Sports Park.

And, as activities and the need for improving and expanding offerings at the 140-acre park increase, Reeder and White are part of the team working to implement big plans at Steen while still maintaining its primary function as a community park for Klamath Basin residents.

“The vision is it becomes a community park,” explains Reeder, president of the park’s board of directors. Because he’s active with the Ella Redkey Swimming Pool, Blue Zones and Healthy Klamath, Reeder sees Steen Sports Park as another offering to provide locals a place to exercise and improve their personal health.

White, the park’s executive director, focuses on the park’s increasingly complex financial issues, emphasizing Steen is a nonprofit organization that receives no funding through city or county taxes. “There is a lot of maintenance we don’t have funding for,” he explains.

When created in 2000, park creators had ambitious goals. White and Reeder credit Dave Steen, a former Klamath Union High School teacher and coach, for launching efforts to create the park and envisioning a place for a variety of sports activities, including baseball, softball, soccer, walking, skateboarding and other outdoor activities. They also credit the Wendt family, the founders and long-time owners of Jeld-Wen, for helping to realize those initial goals with funding for various facilities and Mike’s Field House.

“It never would have happened without them,” White says with an agreeing nod from Reeder.

Steen is already a busy place that’s getting busier. It currently offers five soccer fields, seven baseball/softball diamonds, batting cages, a fitness trail, six pickleball courts, two playgrounds, a skate park, a 60,000-square foot multi-purpose fieldhouse, bathrooms, concession stands and parking.

Short- and long-term improvements include new sand volleyball courts, landscaping shades and walkway, new concessions and bathrooms at the softball field, additional trail and field lighting, expanded parking and, to handle people from outside the area staying overnight during various tournaments, an RV park.

Some of those needs became evident last summer. Youth softball and baseball teams from the San Francisco Bay Area, Sacramento, Idaho, northern Oregon, Washington and Nevada held tournaments at Steen. Reeder and White said 185 of the 193 teams in last year’s tournaments were from outside the region. Based on economic data provided by the park, that boosted the Klamath Falls-area economy by $3.47 million in induced and indirect expenditures, things like restaurants, grocery stores, gas stations, motels, golf courses and other visitor-related spending.

Planned this summer are 23 tournaments that, using the same data, could generate upwards of $10 million. Earlier this month Steen hosted its third tournament of the year, one that attracted teams and parents from the Rogue Valley, Bend and northern California and resulted in so many games that some were held at Kiger Stadium.

Portions of 2020’s and this year’s income will be used to maintain, upgrade and expand offerings at Steen, not only for visitors but area residents. “Tournaments pay to use the park so that locals can continue to use it for free,” notes Reeder.

Because of positive impacts on the region’s economy, some businesses are becoming sponsors. “They’re going to put $10 million into our economy,” Reeder says of the impact from out-of-towners. “So we’re gaining support from the business community.”

The park has received local help, including a $25,000 grant in 2020 from Klamath County Tourism to improve the park’s infrastructure and to revamp, upgrade and maintain its website. Earlier, in 2018, support from Pacific Power’s Blue Sky Program, Energy Trust of Oregon and Eco Solar, a BlueSky Solar Pavilion was completed. The pavilion helps offset energy costs and provides an area for picnics and other activities.

What’s the lure of Klamath Falls?

“Most of the people love the idea it’s a big park in a small town,” says Reeder, noting Steen is close to town in a pastoral, country setting. “That’s our appeal.”

White agrees, adding, “You come here, you don’t have to wait 35 minutes for dinner at a restaurant. I think people really like staying at the park, too. They wake up and walk to the field.”

The need for an RV park became obvious last year when visitors found limited or no vacancy at Klamath Falls motels. “That was evident right away,” Reeder say of the need for overnight accommodations. An RV park is envisioned on an open area near the park’s main entrance, but no details have been worked out.

Both White and Reeder emphasize the improvements and added facilities aren’t wanted only to accommodate visitors. Both note that Steen is used by Klamath Falls-area people. Pickleball is massively popular, and the addition of sand volleyball, which Reeder says attracts younger people, is expected to lure more local recreationalists and has the possibility of generating out-of-towners. “It’s one of those sports we will expand to meet the demand.”

Handling the increased demand has resulted in hiring staff. Chris Baker was hired on contract as activities coordinator while Ricky Walker, an assistant baseball coach at Oregon Tech, begins working in June as the park manager. “Ricky is going to be a fantastic addition to our team,” White says.

White and Reeder credit Chris Baker, the park’s executive director, with leading and coordinating efforts for last years and this year’s baseball and softball tournaments. “He’s the one who really made them work and is absolutely essential to our success,” Reeder emphasizes.

White encourages increased community participation, noting, “The door is open for anyone in the community who wants to volunteer, sponsor, donate or help in any way.” 

“It’s a great story,” White says of the park’s previous and ongoing development. He credits Dave Steen, saying, “Dave had a vision. We see and recognize that vision. Dave’s legacy is important to us and the board.”

“Dave Steen started it – he had the vision,” agrees Reeder. “Our vision is it (the park) becomes a community park, a place for healthy activities.”

As envisioned, Steen Sports Park is a big-getting-bigger park in a small town.

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Sales tax turnback for sports complexes approved !

Omaha, Nebraska – The state will turn back new sales tax revenue to cities to help them build sports complexes under a bill approved by lawmakers May 20.

Sen. Brett Lindstrom
Sen. Brett Lindstrom

 

Under LB39, introduced by Omaha Sen. Brett Lindstrom, a political subdivision alone or working with a nonprofit organization can apply for state assistance to build sports complexes — facilities that are used primarily for competitive sports and contain a certain number of sports venues such as outdoor arenas or baseball, softball or multipurpose fields.

The turnback applies to state sales tax collected by new businesses located within 600 yards of the exterior boundary of a sports complex for the period of time beginning on the date the project commenced and ending four years after its completion date.

Under the bill, 30 percent of state sales tax revenue related to an eligible sports arena facility will be transferred to the Civic and Community Center Financing Fund. The fund is used to provide grants to municipalities other than Omaha and Lincoln to build or improve community facilities such as libraries and recreation centers.

If the sales tax revenue relates to a sports complex, 83 percent will be transferred to the Support the Arts Cash Fund. The Nebraska Arts Council uses the fund to aid cities that designate an area of the community for arts and cultural development and to provide grants to creative districts.

The council will use the turnback revenue to fund a competitive grant program for first class cities that have creative districts within their boundaries and a 10-year plan to bring about economic and workforce development initiatives.

Grants must be at least $1.5 million and can be used to fund capital assets, video projection mapping and certain video or audio presentations.

The remaining 17 percent of the revenue related to sports complexes will be transferred to the Convention Center Support Fund and distributed to areas in metropolitan class cities with a high concentration of poverty to showcase important historical aspects of those areas or to help reduce street and gang violence.

Senators voted 45-0 to pass LB39.

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    We Can Save You Money In 2021 !

    * ( 16 Different Amateur Sports ) *

    ( Teams, Officials, Tournaments, & Facilities ) *

    1-800-622-7370

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    www.sadlersports.com/soda

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    “Proudly Serving The USA/Canada 

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    www.sportsplexoperators.com

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Area Tarps… They’re Not Just For Rain Protection !

    To the average Jane or Joe, when you look at a ballfield and see tarps on a mound and home plate area, they assume groundskeepers put those in place to protect those areas from getting wet from rain and irrigation. Little do they know that mound and plate tarps are critical tools to assist in maintaining moisture to these two high-wear areas of the ballfield. Protection from rain is actually a secondary benefit of using area tarps.Mound and plate areas frequently use a high clay content soil for extra binding power in these high wear areas. Depending on the brand and the level of play the clay is designed for, high quality mound clay soils will have clay content anywhere between 30% and 70%. The higher the content, the better the holding power. But it is not just about the clay content that dictates holding power, the other ingredient is important too — water. Water is part of the glue that holds a soil together and maintaining a good moisture content in the clay wear areas is critical. The more moisture in the clay, the less wear you will see from the activity of a game. Whether it was during my time working for the Orioles or more recently working at our nearby Little League complex, anytime we played through a rain, there was very little, if any, clay repair in the mound and plate needed afterwards thanks to the wet conditions. This demonstrates the importance of keeping as much moisture as possible in your clay areas.The number one enemy of moisture is evaporation and this is where the area tarps play their important role. When games and practices are taking place, these areas are open to the weather elements and evaporation is taking place. Whatever moisture Mother Nature takes away from our clay areas, we must replace and protect from further evaporation. Mound and home plate areas should be covered at all times except when not in use.

So, protect the investment you made in labor and materials around home plate and the pitching mound — cover them with area tarps.

Paul Zwaska

Paul Zwaska

A former head groundskeeper for the Baltimore Orioles, Paul has been with Beacon for more than two decades. Among his many accomplishments he authored Groundskeeper University, the first online ballfield maintenance training venue. Paul continues to seek innovative ways to help groundskeepers.
  • ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

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

    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”

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    [[ Available In SODA Store Online !]]

    ** “STAY SMART ** STAY SAFE” **

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Tips for Leagues Who Maintain Their Own Facility. !

▶ If You Can Dream It…

Beacon Athletics for Little Leagues

Over the past two decades 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 has been with Beacon for more than two decades. Among his many accomplishments he authored Groundskeeper University, the first online ballfield maintenance training venue. Paul continues to seek innovative ways to help groundskeepers.
  • ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

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

    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 **

Massachusetts Relaxes Outdoor Mask Requirement and Announces Future Rollback and Lifting of Business Restrictions !

Effective April 30, 2021, Order 67 relaxes the Commonwealth’s mask mandate, requiring a face-covering outside in public only when not possible to socially distance, or as otherwise required by sector-specific guidance. Face coverings are still required in public indoor places and at all indoor and outdoor events, whether private or public, except when eating or drinking.

With respect to business operations, Massachusetts is currently in Phase 4 Step 1 of its reopening plan. Our overview of current restrictions in the Commonwealth and throughout New England is available here.

Governor Baker recently announced some reopening and capacity changes effective May 10 as part of Phase 4 Step 2, including the following:

  • Large venues (indoor and outdoor stadiums, arenas, and ballparks) may increase capacity to 25%
  • Amusement parks, theme parks, and outdoor water parks may operate at a 50% capacity following submission of a safety plan to DPH
  • Road races and other large, outdoor organized amateur or professional group athletic events may take place with staggered starts after submitting a safety plan
  • Youth and adult amateur sports tournaments allowed for moderate and high-risk sports
  • Singing permitted indoors with strict distancing requirements at performance venues, restaurants, event venues, and other businesses

Effective May 29, gathering limits are expected to increase to 200 people indoors and 250 outdoors for event venues and public and private settings. Also on May 29, the following will be permitted:

  • Street festivals, parades, and agricultural festivals may operate at 50% of their previous capacity and after submitting safety plans
  • Bars, beer gardens, breweries, wineries, and distilleries may open subject to restaurant rules with seated service only, a 90-minute limit, and no dance floors
  • Restaurants are no longer required to serve food with alcohol; maximum table size increased to 10 people

Pending vaccine distribution and health data, all industry restrictions are expected to be lifted on August 1, at which point capacity will increase to 100% across the board, and gathering limits will likewise be lifted.

Please note that some communities have enacted additional restrictions to combat COVID-19 spread locally. For example, Boston will follow the statewide reopening timeline on a three-week delay. A notable exception is that capacity at indoor and outdoor stadiums, including Fenway Park, will increase from 12% to 25% on May 10 at the same time as the rest of the state.

  • ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

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

    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 **