New indoor sports complex in West Louisville holds first competition !

Wednesday was a historic day for the Louisville Urban League, as the new $53 million indoor sports complex held its first track and field meet.

“It really means a lot for the track and field community because we finally have a place where we can go indoors and not be exposed to the elements when it’s winter,” said Bellarmine track student-athlete Shomari Rogers-Walton.

That’s just one of the many perks of the new Norton Healthcare Sports & Learning Center in West Louisville.

“It’s a game-changer for track and field, not only in Louisville but in the state of Kentucky,” said Bellarmine men’s cross-country and track and field head coach Chase Broughton.

The University of Louisville hosted the first indoor meet, the Lenny Lyles Cardinal Invitational, at the facility on Wednesday. The four-team event featured not only the Cards, but also Bellarmine, EKU and Notre Dame.

“I know our kids have been looking forward to it ever since we found out for sure that this was happening,” Broughton said.

The Louisville Urban League broke ground on the facility in 2019. And now, ASM Global-Louisville General Manager Eric Granger says the indoor facility is booked through March.

“Just shows you how successful this facility’s going to be,” Granger said.

The goal is to not just host successful competitions, it’s also to make a difference in kids’ lives.

“When I get older, I want to coach track and field,” Rogers-Walton said. “So it really means a lot that I’m able to come out here and perform for the youth and they can see that it’s possible to do the same things I’m doing.”

Broughton believes the new facility will have a positive impact on kids as well.

“Having it here in the city is going to get a lot more kids opportunities to start competing at a younger, earlier age,” Broughton said.

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American Flag Football League (AFFL) Introduces First-Ever Women’s Division for 2021 Season and Commits to Pay Equity !

NEW YORK, Feb. 10, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — The American Flag Football League (AFFL), the preeminent flag football organization in the United States, announced its new Women’s Division and the glass-ceiling shattering $200,000Grand Prize for both the Men’s and Women’s Champions, leading the movement to level the playing field for gender pay equality in sports. Jeffrey Lewis, CEO and Founder of the American Flag Football League, made the announcement.

“We are proud to make Flag the first sport to institute pay equity from day one. How could we even consider playing football without a level playing field?” stated Mr. Lewis. “Our Women’s Division will feature exceptional female athletes from all over the world. The grassroots Flag community has always epitomized the inclusivity and diversity that so much of society has struggled to achieve. Once we made the commitment to introduce the Women’s Division to the world, there was no question that our Grand Prizes would be equal.”

Leading the charge for the new AFFL Women’s Division are legendary Team USA Football stars Adrienne Smith and Michelle Roque.

Adrienne Smith will be overseeing football operations and corporate partnership development for the Women’s Division. Ms. Smith is among the best-performing wide receivers in women’s football history. As a Boston Renegades Wide Receiver, football advocate and spokesperson, she has led the team to win national championships in 2011, 2014, 2018, and 2019.  Today, Ms. Smith represents Team USA on the Female Flag Football team and is an advisor to the AFFL on its new Women’s Division, with a mission to make women’s flag football a high-visibility, mainstream sport.

“The American Flag Football League’s progressive approach is helping to shape a more equal playing field for women in football and in all sports,” stated Ms. Smith. “As a professional athlete for over 15 years, I’m proud to bring a long history of experience in football on the professional level, and to be a part of the movement that the AFFL is creating which will influence all sports for years to come.”

Heading up all social media for the AFFL, as well as marketing efforts for the Women’s Division, is Michelle Roque, a graduate of Florida State University who skyrocketed into the public eye six years ago as a standout star of her sorority’s flag football league. USA Today has said of Ms. Roque, “She cannot be stopped and she will not be beat.” She has been called by Stack Sports “The Michael Vick of Flag Football.” Today, Ms. Roque represents Team USA on the Female Flag Football team. 

“When I was a little girl, it wasn’t cool to want to play football and it definitely wasn’t cool to play as well as the boys could,” stated Ms. Roque. “We are so excited to finally give all those football-loving girls out there the role models that our generation didn’t have to look up to.”

Since 2016, the AFFL Men’s Division has featured ex-NFL and Division 1 football stars along with Olympic athletes, NBA stars and a remarkable variety of Average Joes who are anything but average.

Two-time defending champions Fighting Cancer, arguably the winningest team of all time in any sport, will take on a national field of teams that have patiently endured the pandemic waiting for their shot to play the kings of the game. AFFL’s Board of Advisors include former NFL players Danny Wuerffel, Isaiah Kacyvenski and Michael Griffin.

The 2021 AFFL season arrives in the midst of a growth explosion for Flag.  The NFL and Nike recently announced a $5mm initiative supporting girls’ high school flag football.  The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) will embark on the first-ever women’s flag football season featuring scholarship athletes. The Sports Fitness Industry Association’s (SFIA) most recent Participation Report noted that Flag has grown to nearly 6.8mm participants, up 23% in the previous 5 years, vs. a 15% decline for tackle to 5.1mm. Flag’s growth rate far exceeds that of soccer, lacrosse, ice hockey, rugby and other major team sports. 

“Flag football now offers a new path for women athletes through varsity play in high school and college followed by pro-play in the AFFL,” said Mr. Lewis. “The prospects for explosive growth at the grassroots level are as exciting as they have ever been.”

About The American Flag Football League (AFFL)
The American Flag Football League (AFFL)’s mission is to build a worldwide community of fans and players who will be united by their shared values through Flag. Our vision is a world where our most joyful sport is also the world’s largest. Jeff Lewis, the founder and CEO of the American Flag Football League, spent the previous 30 years building various businesses in the financial services sector. For more information, please visit www.affl.com.

SOURCE American Flag Football League . . .

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Incorporate Dog-Friendly Amenities !

Raise the Woof !

Incorporate Dog-Friendly Amenities

By Chris Gelbach

As the nation continues its struggle with a deadly pandemic, pet ownership has provided a refuge for many. One result has been a pet-adoption boom that has left some shelters temporarily out of adoptable animals.

PHOTO COURTESY OF BARKPARK BY ULTRASITE

Dog parks have likewise provided a haven for people and their pets to get some exercise while enjoying the relative safety of socially distanced (for the humans at least) time outdoors.

While statistics on American dog ownership can be a bit hairy, they shed light on the fact that many households have dogs. One 2016 study from the American Pet Products Association found that 68% of U.S. households owned a pet in 2016, including an estimated 90 million dogs. The same year, the American Veterinary Medical Association said that 57% of households had a pet, including 77 million dogs nationwide.

What is beyond dispute is that dog owners and their pets are among the most rabid users of park systems. Three Rivers Park District in Minnesota’s suburban Hennepin County counts nine expansive off-leash areas among its offerings, in addition to a variety of dog-friendly trails. It offers day and annual passes for these parks and sees the trend firsthand.

“They’re a great amenity for a lot of people,” said Lynn Stoltzmann, director of facility services for Three Rivers Parks. “Our annual off-leash pass holders probably use their annual pass to the greatest frequency of any of our passholders within the park district. We have many users that come several times a week all year long in all kinds of weather.”

Similar demand is growing even in many of the nation’s most urban environments. “Dog runs [as a park amenity] are the trend that’s taking over,” said Sam Biederman, unofficial dog czar and assistant commissioner for community outreach and partnership development for NYC Parks. “Their numbers grow and grow and grow every year at a deliberate pace here, but I know we’re not the only park system that every year sees an increase in demand for dedicated spaces for dogs.”

Dog Parks Post-COVID and Beyond

As vaccination distribution proceeds, dog park experts don’t expect the pandemic to usher in huge changes for the designs of new parks, though there might be some park features that become more focused on allowing touch-free and social distancing opportunities.

PHOTO COURTESY OF DOG WASH SYSTEMS

“We’re getting more calls for things like touchless water fountains,” said Nora VandenBerghe, sales and marketing manager for a manufacturer of dog park products based in Everett, Wash. With social distancing in mind, more customers are also choosing alternatives to the standard six-foot bench. “People are ordering more benches or changing the quantities and doing two four-foot benches or an eight-foot bench where people have a little bit more room to spread out and still feel safe,” VandenBerghe said.

The larger trend, however, is a greater focus on design and amenities in dog parks. “What we’re seeing more than anything is more advanced design, which includes utilities,” said John Sarver, director of design for an Indianapolis-based manufacturer of dog park products. “Five years ago, you didn’t see a lot of water lines and electrical lines. Now we’re starting to see lights, and we’re starting to see water fountains at a better pace. We’re also seeing more weather-related protection like shades and shelters.”

Trends in Amenities

For dog parks not able to incorporate utilities, VandenBerghe is seeing more parks opt for solar lighting, which can be more cost-effective to install and maintain than traditional wired light. But Sarver cautions that it often doesn’t provide the amount of light that electrical lighting does, so he sees it as an ideal option mainly for parks that are far away from utilities.

“Lighting is really important from a safety perspective,” VandenBerghe said. This is because many users may not be able to get to the dog park until after dark in northern climates or may opt for after-dark hours in warmer regions where daytime temps regularly hit the 90s and 100s.

PHOTOS ON THIS PAGE COURTESY OF DOG-ON-IT-PARKS

According to Sarver, these usage patterns can mean that lighting can play a big part in the success or failure of a dog park since people won’t make the effort to go to an unlit park after dark. “If the park’s not well-lit, then a lot of times people won’t go,” Sarver said. “You get to the park and there’s no dogs there for your dog to play with, which is one of the greatest benefits of a dog park—having other dogs to play with and other humans to interact with.”

In New York City, the lighting used for dog runs is similar to that used for other park areas, and discussions about its use are initiated in concert with the community and the police department. The focus is on answering three questions. “What are the needs for safety? What are the needs for wayfinding? And what are the needs to not create a disturbance for the surrounding community?” Biederman said.

Shade structures are becoming more prevalent too. Because they can be a bigger-ticket item, VandenBerghe often sees them specified in dog-park plans as something that can be added later. “A lot of times a park will be built without them and when their funding comes around or there’s an off-leash group fundraising for park improvements, they’re often added on basically as soon as they can put them in,” she said.

The Large and Small of It

VandenBerghe noted that one approach to save on shade structures in dog park designs is to create a single shade structure spanning the fence between separate large- and small-dog areas. “That way, with one shade structure you’re able to provide shade for seating on both sides of the park,” VandenBerghe said.

When space permits, creating these separate large and small dog areas is advisable to increase the safety and comfort level of the dogs. Harris County Precinct 3 manages several dog parks in Houston and nearby areas and includes parks like Bill Archer Dog Park and Millie Bush Dog Park that are often featured on lists of the nation’s top dog parks.

“All of our dog parks have large and small dog separations,” said Greg Wyatt, a park manager for Harris County Precinct 3 who manages Bill Archer Dog Park. The cutoff for the small-dog areas is 20 pounds, the rationale being that the size ratio between a 3-pound dog and a 20-pound dog corresponds to that of a dog over 20 pounds and large dogs of more than 100 pounds. Wyatt said that one of the most common complaints his team hears about are complaints about the weight limit. “You’re never going to make everybody happy on that weight limit,” Wyatt said.

PHOTO COURTESY OF HARRIS COUNTY PRECINCT THREE

But creating the separate areas can help avoid the serious injuries that can occur if a larger dog does become aggressive with a much smaller animal. And the other complaints his team most commonly deal with relate to aggressive dogs.

“When we have those issues, we normally either send in law enforcement to either talk to the people or there’s times that I’ve asked people to either leave the park or keep their dog leashed because it’s being aggressive,” Wyatt said. “You just have to enforce it. We make the phone number to the constable and to our park office visible so when there’s a problem, we react. We try to deal with that issue as soon as it arises.”

Education is key to reduce these kinds of conflicts and to just make sure that pet owners have a good understanding of whether their dog is even a good fit for a dog park. At Three Rivers Park District, Stoltzmann’s team recently put together an FAQ section for the district website that assists with this effort.

“One of the things that we really want to make sure of is that when people are coming to an off-leash area, they are bringing a dog that is appropriate for an off-leash area,” Stoltzmann said. “We have some guidelines around that to try to make it a safe and positive experience for everyone.”

According to those guidelines, dogs appropriate for dog parks should be:

  • Over 6 months old and vaccinated for rabies.
  • Healthy and in good physical condition.
  • Reliably and promptly willing to come back to the owner when called away from the home environment and when playing with other dogs or focused on something else.
  • Able to exhibit appropriate dog relationship skills (not constantly dominating or completely submissive).

Warning signs that can make dogs inappropriate for off-leash areas include dogs that:

  • Exhibit a strong prey drive toward other dogs.
  • Intensely focus on another dog that cannot be redirected.
  • Are possessive of toys or foods.
  • Are unfriendly with strangers.
  • Disrespect other dogs’ boundaries.
  • Will not back off and/or can’t be called off.
  • Are anxious or fearful.
  • Cower or continuously tuck tail around other dogs.

Space Considerations

Three Rivers is fortunate to have many large areas, a benefit that can also contribute to increased safety. “I do think that having a larger amount of space definitely gives users a safer experience,” Stoltzmann said. “And if dogs can be split apart a little bit and you have more opportunity to do that, it creates a safer environment.”

That being said, for some dogs, playing closely with other dogs is one of the great perks of a dog park. “Most dogs love chaos, and if you spread them out too much, there’s not that playful chaos that they can get when the park’s a little bit more tight,” Sarver said.

PHOTO COURTESY OF LAURA JARRIEL

Even in those situations, Sarver sees good design of the preferably double-gated entrance area as key to minimize conflicts. “You want the dogs to be able to enter the park without a small area that the dogs tunnel to because generally dogs like to greet dogs at the entrance gate,” Sarver said. “So you want to make sure that the design of the park is one that allows the dogs to go left or right or straight and not be boxed in.”

For larger parks, Sarver is also seeing some customers opt to include a solo dog run or two that abuts the main dog-park area. These are typically smaller areas around 20-by-30 feet that can be safely used by an individual puppy who is not quite ready for the dog park, an older or nervous dog, or a dog that may be aggressive sometimes.

“That little kennel area will allow them to visualize how things happen but maybe they can integrate into the main dog park at some time,” Sarver said. “And maybe not. Some dogs are just happy being in the kennel � But it’s a good thing to consider in the large parks for sure.”

Site Selection

Whenever possible, as Harris County and Three Rivers Parks have experienced firsthand, larger areas can be better because they offer more opportunities to provide running space for dogs. They also still allow room for smaller spaces within them featuring amenities like agility equipment and closer quarters for more sociable dogs to interact.

And while dog parks are sometimes located in out-of-the-way spots where they are less likely to disrupt other users, Sarver noted that it can also be very advantageous to have the park close to existing power, water and amenities. “Sometimes they can put the dog park close enough where they can share the restrooms with the other amenities within the park. Which is a really positive situation,” Sarver said. Locating the park near an existing water supply is also ideal. “We think every dog park should have a water fountain, but unfortunately in some cases it’s just not possible because of the distance between the park and the nearest water supply.”

It’s generally good to keep agility equipment in a dedicated section of the park, while keeping most of the space open. “We always want to make sure in a dog park that the majority of the space is really just allocated for ball throwing, running, just having open space for dogs to stretch their legs,” VandenBerghe said.

Sarver also recommends selecting a dry area with a good mix of sun and shade, and a common path of egress if it’s in a larger park so that people using the larger park don’t have to go out of their way to use the dog park.

It can also be ideal to have the dog park located off a trail system, so the dog can play at the park and then the human and dog can get some quality on-leash time walking together afterward.

PHOTO COURTESY OF BARKPARK BY ULTRASITE

But it’s also important to work with what you have. In Harris County, several of the dog parks are in flood-prone areas and feature ponds that the dogs can swim in. Some also feature washing stations so pet owns can wash their dogs before they head back into the car for the trip home.

Several of the Harris County dog parks are also built within another park, and feature walking trails—some in the off-leash area. “That’s convenient for people when they just want to take a stroll and turn their dog loose to play,” Wyatt said. “It’s just an additional feature so you’re just not standing out there watching the dog play.” The trails, along with other features like shade structures, help create an experience that’s more rewarding for the people bringing their dogs. “You can get comfortable, you can get exercise while your dog plays, so it just draws people—you have multiple aspects to the dog park,” Wyatt said.

At the Three Rivers Park District’s 29-acre off-leash dog area at Elm Creek Park Reserve, there is a wetland pond for the dogs in the middle of the fenced off-leash area that is also fenced. “So you can make the choice whether you want your dog to go into that pond area or not, and it is a very big space,” Stoltzmann said.

In New York City, several dog runs include water features, from a wading pool at Sirius Dog Park in Battery Park City to a dog beach at Prospect Park in Brooklyn to canine sprinklers at the East River Esplanade Dog Run in Lower Manhattan.

“No dog is going to turn down a wading pool,” Biederman said. “And in the dog runs without dedicated wading pools, you will often find that somebody will have dragged a blow-up pool into those parks during the summer.”

The East River park also features lots of color and some sculptures that dogs like to play on, including raised elements like a large metal squirrel on a pedestal. “If there is topography, the dog will try to be the top dog. They will try to find the highest point and then push each other off and it’s hilarious,” Biederman said. “I highly recommend if you are designing a dog park to give the dogs something to play top dog on.”

New product options like modular turf and smaller, more portable agility equipment are also making nontraditional sites like rooftop dog parks an increasingly attractive option. This allows users to move the turf around for cleaning or to move the agility pieces around for variety. “It also allows them to remove the equipment if they want to have an event like a yappy hour,” VandenBerghe said.

Extending Opportunities for Dog Owners

Three Rivers has also expanded its opportunities based on community demand by recently opening its turf trails to on-leash dogs, whereas previously only the paved trails allowed dogs. All trails require dogs to be on a six-foot non-retractable leash. Forbidding the retractable leashes that can sometimes be 10 or 12 feet long helps to minimize conflicts with other trail users. And opening the turf trails to dog owners has also led more pet owners to choose to walk in these more natural environments, creating fewer conflicts with other users like bikers and rollerbladers on the paved trails.

New York City, meanwhile, not only regularly adds to its offerings of dog runs throughout its park system, but also offers off-leash hours in some of its parks. Prospect Park, for instance, offers hours of green space that allow dogs to roam off-leash from 5 to 9 a.m. and from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. “A bigger park usually makes for a better park when it comes to identifying a site for off-leash hours,” Biederman said.

PHOTO COURTESY OF DOG WASH SYSTEMS

Off-leash hours can be a great way to accommodate dog owners while minimizing interference with other park users during peak times. But communicating these rules is also key. Over the past few years, NYC Parks has undertaken an effort to re-sign every park in the system. “The standardization of these signs include information about off-leash hours so that anyone entering the park gets a clear heads-up that this is something they might encounter,” Biederman said.

Good communication and proper maintenance are essential for creating a pleasant experience for all users. At Three Rivers, Stoltzmann uses both popup events and social media updates as ways to keep users up to date about and invested in the spaces. The district also has staff that regularly frequents and checks in on the off-leash areas.

In Harris County, Wyatt likewise views a strong focus on ongoing maintenance as key to the dog parks’ success. “As soon as we know that something’s broken, we repair it. We maintain it. We mow it. We weed-eat it,” he said.

NYC Parks, on the other hand, creates its dog runs and off-leash hours in response to community demand—and requires the commitment of a dedicated volunteer group for ongoing maintenance before any new dog run is established.

“We really do rely on the volunteer groups that run these dog runs in partnership with us,” Biederman said. “And those nonprofit groups or those volunteer groups are the main determinant as to how the run is going to look, how it’s going to be operated, and whether or not it succeeds. This is not something we do on our own. It cannot be a top-down effort.”

In the end, whether it be through dedicated park maintenance or a more volunteer-focused approach, a commitment to ongoing maintenance is key. “It’s just my experience that with any park, the more pleasant the experience as far as it being maintained, the happier the user is going to be,” Wyatt said. And when it comes to dog parks, that’s the case whether the patrons have two legs or four. RM

[ Courtesy Recreation Management.]

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NY State Covid Guidelines Set For Sport Facility Play !

Weekly reminder regarding COVID-19

CPDA staff will be enforcing the following guidelines to help slow the spread of COVID-19:

  • All people entering the facility must have a mask with them before coming in. To avoid crowding, parents will not be allowed inside the facility with their child, unless renting a cage
  • Players in our programs will be limited to cages 5 through 8, and will enter through the rear entrance, where parents will drop off/pick up their child
  • Players using the facility for lessons and cage rentals will be limited to cages 1 through 4
  • Staff will meet players at each entrance to escort them in and out of the facility
  • Players must wear their mask when inside the facility. The only exception to this rule will be when players are not within (or not in danger of being) 6 feet of anyone when performing an activity (such as hitting off of a tee on their own, playing catch, and the like), but players must still have their mask on their person at all times.

Our staff will continue to provide the following:

  • Sanitization of all surfaces, with an emphasis on doors, door handles, tables, chairs, countertops and restrooms
  • Frequent temperature checks for people entering the facility
  • Access to hand sanitizing stations throughout the facility
  • Access to disposable masks if needed, plus
  • Social distancing markers are laid out throughout the facility to avoid crowding

Please ensure you follow these tips to stay safe:

  • Thoroughly wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, using soap and hot water.
  • If you or any family member is ill or under the weather, please stay home
  • Do not share water bottles
  • Refrain from shaking hands with others
  • Request that those around you follow the above listed practices.

We will continue to stay up-to-date with the latest information made available by the CDCNew York State Department of Health, and local health officials. For more information, please consult the CDC website.

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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.”

photo

(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. 

photo

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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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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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.

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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


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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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NJ Resuming Indoor Sports 1st Weekend of 2021 as COVID-19 Continues Spread !

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy is allowing indoor sports to resume in New Jersey in the New Year, but teams won’t be permitted to play out of state when play resumes on Jan. 2.

The games can resume with coronavirus-related safety measures in place. Spectators won’t be allowed if participants, coaches and referees exceed the state’s limit of 10 people gathering indoors.

Murphy made the announce at his 144th and last coronavirus news briefing of 2020, which was held virtually Wednesday afternoon.

The Toll Coronavirus Has Taken on New Jersey

New Jersey has reported more than 472,000 COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic, with more than 4,600 new cases reported Wednesday.

The most recent spot positivity was 15.19% on Dec. 26. Murphy noted that the higher rate of people testing positive for the virus was probably due to mostly people with symptoms or fears of exposure testing around Christmas.

More than 3,700 people were hospitalized in New Jersey with coronavirus as of late Tuesday. More than 700 of them were in intensive care.

Nearly 17,000 deaths are confirmed to be from coronavirus complications, with 99 new deaths reported Wednesday. More than 2,000 more deaths are presumed to be due to COVID-19.

Murphy noted the toll that coronavirus has left on families in his state: “In 10 months, COVID-19 has cut a deep scar across countless families, entire communities, and indeed our entire state. We have fought this virus together, embraced new practices, battled through our pandemic fatigue, worked hard to protect our loved ones and to save lives.”

He urged people, again, to wear masks, socially distance from each other and wash hands thoroughly.

In recent days, Murphy has warned people against spreading COVID-19 at large New Year’s Eve parties, instead encouraging people to celebrate at home among just immediate family.

“We know that 2021 will bring better days, but we’re going to have to greet the new year on the same war footing with which we’re ending 2020,” Murphy said hopefully.

Focusing on Vaccines

On Wednesday, Murphy announced that the Garden State has launched a new vaccination landing page for information about inoculation plans in the state at covid19.nj.gov/vaccine.

He has touted the state’s expanding vaccination program that now includes residents and staff at long-term care facilities and veterans homes.

Around 120,000 doses of the vaccines, so far, have been reserved for long-term care facilities.

The goal for New Jersey is to get 70% of the adult population in New Jersey vaccinated for COVID-19 during 2021, Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli reiterated Wednesday.

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