The SODA Blog

The official blog of the Sportsplex Operators & Developers Association

New Versus Existing Infields !

4 Important Tips to Effectively Run Your Ballfield Facility !

How to get the most out of your ballfields.

With this forced downtime, this is a perfect time to assess how your operations are working. After years of working with a local little league in Madison, Wisconsin, Beacon’s Paul Zwaska offers some important tips that can help you effectively run your facility.

1. Be a leader! Every organization needs a visionary who can dream up and plan the future of a facility. However, to be successful, you will need someone who can lead and help the organization stay the course on its planned initiatives.  Someone who can keep an eye on the prize!

2. Organize the organization. It should be run like a business, especially since you have revenue coming in and expenses going out. The organization should have a budget that is closely monitored and controlled in order to help with planning. Without a budget, it becomes much harder to plan for facility improvements and upgrades.

3. Plan for the long-term, not just the here and now. Long-range planning is critical, especially when tackling projects that have high costs. Sometimes, these projects need to be done in phases over a few years to help spread out the cost. The long-range plan should be a living five year plan that is updated annually.

4. Maintain a healthy revenue stream. If you own and maintain the facility where you play your games, be sure to charge enough to cover the costs of operations and future upgrades. You should consider these revenue streams:

  • Player Registration – Total registration revenue should cover at least 50% of the cost increase of overall operations of the league and facility. The higher the better. Don’t be afraid to increase fees annually.
  • Concessions – You should shoot for a minimum profit margin of 40 – 50% on most items.  A good concessions manager is always experimenting with new menu items. Ditch the poor performers and seek out the popular top sellers.
  • Sponsorships – Team sponsors, outfield sign sponsors, and other special sponsorships. It takes the right people to approach businesses to ask for sponsorship money. You will find that the smaller the community, the bigger the support from local businesses.  In smaller communities, the youth sporting events are often the main entertainment.
  • Hosting Tournaments – Use your facility to host tournaments a couple times a year, this will help accelerate your revenue stream Proper planning will ensure that they won’t interfere with regular league action.
  • Grants – There are many foundations and organizations that have money to give to worthy causes. Do your research and apply for as many grants as possible. Most of these organizations want to know how their money will be used. Be prepared to share your budget and be specific about what you need. The application process can be tedious, but the rewards can be very fruitful. Sometimes it helps to hire a grant writer as they are better prepared to navigate the confusing and laborious application process.

Remember: Your facility is like a second home for families

Parents want a great place to send their kids to play. Parents and participants won’t complain about increasing costs as long as they see the money going towards facility improvements. They will be willing to pay a little more.

And, keep this in mind… the more visible the improvements, the easier it is to ask for more fees.

Paul Zwaska

Paul Zwaska

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

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We Can Save You Money In 2020 !

* ( 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 

Since 1981”

www.sportsplexoperators.com

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“Proudly Serving The USA/Canada 

Since 1981”

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Virus outbreak grinds E’town Sports Park’s spring season to a halt !

Backstop Netting Systems -vs- Chain Link Fencing. !

Mar 17, 2020 ·

A large scale update of your ballfield means making a lot of difficult decisions. One of the toughest decisions is whether to install a backstop netting system or a chain link fence backstop. Considering durability, installation, fan safety, and visual appeal of both options will help you decide which is the right way to go for your ballfield.


► NETTING: What are the benefits?

  • Visual appeal
  • Fan safety
  • Installation
  • Cost

VISUAL APPEAL

Netting systems are visually impressive.They create a professional ballfield experience and provide minimal obstruction for viewing. Thin, black netting seamlessly blends into the ballfield and fewer poles mean fewer obstructions. The netting poles can even be installed behind the seating area giving fans a seamless view of the game.

SAFETY

Backstop netting systems provide superior spectator protection.Chain link fences can make it difficult for fans to see the game, and many will move to an unprotected area for a better view. Netting systems can be installed to greater heights than chain link fences, so the risk of foul balls flying into the viewing area is lower. While the most common height for netting systems is 30 feet, 10 feet higher than a chain link fence, they can be installed up to 50 feet. These increased heights prevent errant balls from hitting cars, buildings, and spectators without sacrificing the viewer’s ability to see the game. Besides backstop safety, barrier netting is often installed down the foul lines. Set at a height of 10 to 20 feet, this helps protect pitchers and catchers who are warming up, as well as spectators who are entering and exiting the facilities.

INSTALLATION

Netting systems are configured to fit your needs exactly. A typical system will use four large, steel poles that are engineered based on the specific needs (height and netting span) of your ballpark. These poles offer you flexibility in their placement – they can be placed down the foul lines, behind dugouts or seating areas, and can be configured to work around existing buildings. These solid poles are designed to withstand the stress that is created by wind at your park.

Netting systems need to be secured to the backstop wall, as well as secured to the grandstand or dugout areas. If not engineered and installed correctly from the beginning, this will likely cause future issues. For example, a backstop wall constructed of hollow blocks will not provide the holding strength for the eye bolts holding the lower horizontal cables.

In order to reduce the amount of give the net has when a ball hits it, proper installation is essential. If not correctly installed, the tension of the net can be compromised and the net will flex too much when hit by a ball. This can put nearby fans who are “nose to net”at risk.

COST

A wide range of factors means there is a wide range of final costs.First, you must consider some essential factors that will drive cost and design: the height of the net, the number of poles and their overall span, the pole placement (inline with the backstop, offset behind the home plate seating area, and placement in relation to the dugout), and whether the poles are buried or mounted to a plate. Large redesigns or initial builds can benefit from the cost savings provided by a netting system — huge chain link fencing projects come with huge price tags. While less expensive at the onset, even small chain link fences will require replacing down the road. After installation, the only future expense of your netting system will be replacing or patching the net. They cover a large area, and provide the most cost economical way to protect a large number of fans.


NETTING: What else should I consider?

  • Durability
  • Backstop use
  • Netting material
  • Give of the material (flex)
  • Other budget considerations

DURABILITY

Depending on your location, some backstop netting systems can be left up all year. In colder climates, a winch-based lift and tension netting system requires the field maintenance staff to take it down and to store it with care. A permanent netting system only needs the net removed in the case of an extreme storm. Properly maintained, a netting system will last eight to twelve years. Tears or holes can develop, but can be easily repaired. Netting systems can also be susceptible to vandalism if there is no park security.

BACKSTOP USE

Backstop netting systems are meant to be installed with a solid backstop wall, and are not meant to go directly to the field surface. Contact with cleats and balls at the ground level would create tears and holes. In the absence of a backstop wall, a netting system can be added to a 4 to 6 foot chain link base wall.

NETTING MATERIAL

The netting used for backstop netting systems must be strong, but flexible in order to resist stress created by wind. The type of fiber used in the netting system, paired with the design of the system, determines its strength and longevity. There are two main material options available, depending on your needs: nylon, and Dyneema.

The majority of netting systems use nylon. The stronger material means a longer lifespan, and can be used both indoors and outdoors. UV inhibitors extend the life of the netting, and varnish or latex dips make the material waterproof. Nylon provides your spectators with a clearer view of the field than the poly netting.

If you are outfitting a professional ballfield, Dyneema (a high-end Polypropylene type of material) provides the strongest and most visually appealing netting system. This material is ultra-strong yet ultra-lightweight, and offers minimal visual obstruction to spectators. It has a high resistance to UV degradation, but may need replacing more frequently than nylon netting systems.

OTHER BUDGET CONSIDERATIONS

For ballfields with fencing systems under 20 feet in height,installing a backstop netting system at a similar height is a less cost efficient option. In that case, a chain link fence may be your best choice. The increased value of a netting system is really seen when you’re looking at heights from 20 to 50 feet, and beyond.

► CHAIN LINK FENCE: What are the benefits?

  • Durability
  • Safety
  • Cost

Durability

Chain link fenceChain link fences are made from strong, high gauge metal that is meant to last for years. The posts can be concreted into place, and the fencing holds well against strong winds and the players who lean on them. Fence systems are typically installed straight to the ground, and will not become significantly damaged by balls or cleats hitting them.

Safety

Chain link fences provide your ballfield with immovable protectionfrom errant hits, throws, and pitches. The strong metal will not give when a ball hits it, the ball will be stopped immediately, and the fence will not be severely damaged.

Cost

For smaller backstops that are less than 20′ in height, chain link fences remain the most affordable option. Chain link systems require a smaller investment upfront and may be the best choice when working under a limited budget.


► CHAIN LINK FENCE: What else should I consider?

  • Materials
  • Obstructions
  • Other budget considerations

Materials

Metal is subject to rust and distortion over time, despite its strength. Years of being hit with balls can lead chain link fences to being bent or damaged behind the home plate area. Fencing often becomes bowed or bent over time and will later require large sections to be replaced at the same time.

Obstructions

Chain link fences give your ballpark a less professional atmosphere. The thickness of the metal, combined with the color of the steel, creates more prominent obstructions than netting systems. Poles must be placed every four to eight feet, and chain link fences often require additional horizontal supporting poles. Clear viewing of the ballgame is compromised and spectators may move to unprotected areas to be able to see the game. This reduces the protection your chain link system provides your fans.

Other budget considerations

Outfitting a ballpark with a chain link fence heights available in taller netting systems would be cost prohibitive. The typical chain link fence system does not exceed 20 feet in height, and extending it beyond that would require a much more extensive budget. When considering the amount of materials needed and the cost of installation, chain link fences may not be a suitable choice for larger scaled ballparks. Even if a shorter chain link fence requires a lower initial investment, eventual damage to the fence will require higher costs to repair it down the road.

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We Can Save You Money In 2020 !

* ( 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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Beacon AthleticsBeacon Athletics

We’ve been in your shoes. So it’s about giving you what you need, when you need it. To live up to “the ultimate ballfield resource” it goes beyond just delivering superior products. It’s also about giving you on-demand resources that will help make your job easier. That’s why we created Ballfields.com and GroundskeeperU.com. Whatever your ballfield needs, think Beacon.

When It’s Time, America Will Need This !

These are challenging times in front of us. Uncertainty, anxiety, fear of the unknown, and much more are running rampant. It’s understandable; it’s human nature. But even with major portions of the U.S. shutting down, those who must maintain sports fields have to keep their noses to the grindstone, albeit usually with skeleton staffs and social distancing. Natural grass sports fields are living biosystems that need to be maintained to prevent damage from disease and overgrowth. Social distancing is manageable when working in the outdoors; however, it can be mentally challenging when you are used to crowds in your facility this time of year, but all you hear is quiet, day after day.There will come a time when this will be behind us and our country is going to need to blow off some steam, take a deep breath, and return to normalcy as quickly as possible. When the time comes, the return of professional and recreational sports will play a HUGE role in helping everyone move on and provide some comfort and healing. These are challenging times and we look forward to hearing the words “Play Ball” sooner than later. We are all anxious to get back to socializing with each other again, in person.

As best said in the movie Field of Dreams, “People will come, Ray…” To shake hands, to give high-fives, to hug, to backslap, and all the other forms of physical jocular celebration that bring us together. “This field, this game: It’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good and it could be, again. Oh… people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come.”

People will come to play on your thick, lush, mowed emerald green fields. They’ll field the ground balls and slide into second on your smooth and resilient infield skin. They’ll sit in your dugouts, laugh, chew gum, spit seeds, and cheer for their teammates. They’ll hear the cheers from their moms and dads, their families, friends, and fans watching from the stands, and all will be right with the world, again.

So, keep your spirits high and your mowing patterns tight. The athletes of America are trusting that you are keeping their fields ready for play. Once we free ourselves from the clutches of this pandemic, you’ll have the ballfields and ballparks of America full of the sounds of joy and competition again, and hopefully, social distancing will be a thing of the past.

Paul Zwaska

Paul Zwaska

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

Here’s a few off the field activities in the meantime:

Runyon Field Sports Complex ready, waiting for hustle, bustle, games !

The Runyon Field Sports Complex sits idle these days.

It’s a far cry from what normally occurs on a spring day with the hustle and bustle of fields involving hundreds of youngsters, coaches, families and fans competing and participating in baseball and softball.

New general manager Greg LaSage was pumped up for opening day, which was scheduled to take place April 4 and now has been put on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We were scheduled to have opening day on April 4 for youth and high schools and were about to get started,” LaSage said late last week. “Right now under the direction of (Pueblo) county, everything is suspended.”

LaSage indicated that more than 150 teams (106 baseball, 46 softball) were already registered for baseball and softball from age 8 all the way to high school.

“Plus, we’re still adding teams,” LaSage said. “We had our draft day a couple weeks ago and had 155 kids come out for that. We had coaches step up to coach teams and placed kids on teams.”

With everything on hold, LaSage said schedules have yet to be completed and he’s been in communication with coaches to keep them informed.

The facility itself was more than ready for the influx of teams.

“A lot of good things have been happening,” LaSage said. “The place looks great and the facilities guys have worked hard to get everything ready.

“We’ve replaced and repaired much of the lighting. And we have a new scoreboard on Hobbs (Field) and that will be completed with a new topper on it. We’ve done a ton of things around the facility to clean it up and have it look professional.”

The preparation LaSage and his staff has done is admirable. Now, they just need to wait for the go-ahead to put bodies on the field and in the stands.

“We’re trying to do everything we can to provide the best quality programs we can for as many people as we can,” he said. “We want this facility to be utilized.

“Before this (coronavirus) happened, this place was hopping. We had people everywhere. Games going on, coaches clinics, umpire training, people working out.

“It was a great environment and people were excited. It makes it even harder now. It’s not the same without games going on out here.”

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We Can Save You Money In 2020 !

* ( 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

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

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“Proudly Serving The USA/Canada 

Since 1981”

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Free lunches to be provided for children at Winter Sports Park !

Free lunches to be provided for children at Winter Sports Park !petoskey logoThe Petoskey, MI. Department of Parks and Recreation is coordinating with Bill and Carol’s West Side Grocery to offer free lunches for children at the city’s Winter Sports Park next week.

Coronavirus and the Impacts at the Youngsville Sports Complex !

From Youngsville Mayor, Ken Ritter:

“Regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the impacts at the Youngsville Sports Complex:

This evening’s practices for baseball, t-ball, & softball are cancelled.
Additional information regarding the baseball rec practices and schedules will be forthcoming.
This weekend’s USSSA tournament is being reduced to comply with Governor JBE’s Executive Order. (Lower attendance, fewer teams, more timing between games.)
Additional cleaning of our facility and concession procedures are being implemented.
Soccer and basketball activities this weekend have been cancelled by their host.
Raising Cane’s Tennis Center will remain open as normal.
Council on Aging Senior Exercise Program has been cancelled for the week of March 16th.

For accurate information and prevention measures about COVID-19 please reference:

http://ldh.la.gov/Coronavirus/

www.coronavirus.gov

The health and safety of our residents and visitors remain a top priority. However Youngsville remains OPEN to business. Our local businesses need us now more than ever. Together let’s support each other and remain vigilant.”

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We Can Save You Money In 2020 !

* ( 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

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“Proudly Serving The USA/Canada 

Since 1981”

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City of Henderson, KY. debuts design concept for youth sports complex. !

This preliminary concept drawing of a new youth sports complex shows initial facilities in pink/red that would include parking, baseball diamonds and multi-use recreation fields. The later phase, in blue, would include two more ball diamonds and another parking lot and recreation field -- if finances and demand justify the additions.

This preliminary concept drawing of a new youth sports complex shows initial facilities in pink/red that would include parking, baseball diamonds and multi-use recreation fields. The later phase, in blue, would include two more ball diamonds and another parking lot and recreation field — if finances and demand justify the additions. (Photo: Douglas White / Henderson)

HENDERSON, Ky. – The city of Henderson on Tuesday showed off a preliminary concept design for a long-sought new youth sports complex.

The project is envisioned for roughly a 65-acre space, and City Manager William “Buzzy” Newman explained that several properties are being eyed as potential locations.

He said he couldn’t be more specific at this time, but did disclose that at least one possible location isn’t within the city of Henderson itself.

What’s included?

During a required hearing related to a federal grant request for the project, city of Henderson Public Works Engineer Dylan Ward walked those in attendance through the different components and phases of the project.

He stressed that it’s “a rough, preliminary concept” and is mostly “to show what it is we want and what we can fit” within a certain amount of space.

The pieces could easily be moved around, he said, to accommodate different road access, topography, drainage and other factors.

He explained that the design right now consists of three phases. The first would encompass site preparation — utilities, earthwork, storm-water detention construction, and erosion control.

Phase 2 (shown in red on the graphic) would include an entrance road, two main parking lots and sidewalks, six baseball diamonds, two multi-purpose fields that can be used for soccer, youth football or lacrosse, and concession stand/restroom facilities. The ball diamonds would replace the outdated ones currently used by the local PCMA League.

Background

No one spoke out in favor or against the concept during Tuesday’s required grant hearing, but multiple people in the audience filled out comments sheets indicating support.

City Public Information Officer Donna B. Stinnett explained recently that the Land and Water Conservation Fund Grant request “is not even necessarily targeted at a specific piece of property. The request will be for $250,000 to apply to property purchase and it is a 50/50 match” (which means the city would also kick in $250,000 for the purchase.)

The maximum amount of grant awarded through this program is $250,000.

The Green River Area Development District has been working on the grant request on behalf of the city of Henderson.

The estimated cost to acquire the land for the sports complex is $750,000.

Should the city project receive funding, GRADD has said “it is important to stress that all recreational facilities assisted by Land and Water Conservation Fund Grant assistance must stay in outdoor recreational use for perpetuity.”

The city will be responsible for developing the property for recreational use and must begin making improvements within three years of acquiring property.

The deadline to submit a 2020 LWCF application is May 29, 2020.

Typically, decisions are made towards the end of the year and projects are awarded and begin in the late spring/early summer of the following year.

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We Can Save You Money In 2020 !

* ( 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

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“Proudly Serving The USA/Canada 

Since 1981”

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$20M sports park back at Delaware County mega-development !

Although the facilities will be a local attraction, it'll be a draw for local sports, too.

 

A crucial part of the $1.5 billion Evans Farm development is going ahead after a delay.

 

The Park, a 57-acre, 10-field sports park will begin on the western edge the expansive Delaware County development. On Monday, Orange Township trustees approved a final zoning amendment for the park.

Construction will begin in June on the sports complex, which will include two youth baseball fields and eight multi-use fields for baseball, soccer, lacrosse, field hockey and football. Jennings Land Development will be the builder.

The park will complement 3,100 housing units and 580,000 square feet of commercial space in the $1.5 billion project, which is now under construction in Orange and Berlin townships. 

“This is the next big step in the community’s continued investment in Evans Farms,” Delaware County Economic Development Director Bob Lamb said in a statement”. “The Delaware County Finance Authority has played a critical role in getting the project to the finish line. We continue to assist through a number of financing tools that will move the Jennings Sports Park to fruition.”Construction on Jennings Sports.

The park is meant to be a local attraction for residents of Evans Farm as well as the 30,000 people living in Orange Township. But the project had some difficulties after its original developer, Central Ohio Sports Management, wasn’t able to move forward with plans to break ground last year.

“Our community is in dire need of additional fields to serve our many leagues and youth groups,” Ryan Rivers, chairman of the Orange Township Trustees, said in the statement. “Not only will this bring relief to our current demand, but it is a really impressive addition to the area in general, and Evans Farms in particular.”About two-thirds of the potential use for the facility would be local little league teams, but it could host sports tournaments as well.

A 2017 study by Dallas-based data house Orbis Research found that youth sports is a $15.5 billion market in the U.S., rivaling the $14 billion NFL. Growth has come as traveling teams, which bring families along for weekend trips, has become more popular, especially in suburban and exurban areas.

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

We Can Save You Money In 2020 !

* ( 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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