Small communities across the country are capitalizing on local economic potential from the $9 billion youth sports movement through construction of sports complexes. These facilities allow them to host tournaments that provide significant indirect revenue to local and regional economies as a result of off-site spending on food, lodging, gas, entertainment and shopping.
Among the most recent additions is a new baseball/softball complex in York, Nebraska. York is proud of its small town character, yet it enjoys many advantages generally offered by larger, more populated cities. Outside studies conducted for the City established that an eight-field complex was the optimal size to meet both current and future needs. The City turned to Alfred Benesch & Company (Benesch) to plan and design the facility in just seven weeks.
As part of its comprehensive design services, Benesch assisted the city in overall planning beyond the two pinwheel-layout for eight ballfields. Other considerations were lighting, batting cages, team warm up areas, drainage, press boxes, maintenance buildings and player/fan amenities including concessions, picnic areas, a play structure, restrooms, parking and ease of access.
“Working with Benesch on the York Ballfield Project was easy. The project certainly was not easy, and neither was the timeline, but Benesch delivered!” said Tara Vasicek, City Administrator for York during the project. “I enjoy working with Benesch because they are detail oriented, professional, their experience is extensive, they respect my time and the goals of the city. Benesch kept the project moving, when others would have let it sit, and they did an excellent job representing the City.”
The City of York opted to lower the cost of the project by revising the original bid of $7.7 million to $7.35 million. Benesch delivered at a final construction cost of $7.29 million–a net cost reduction of $63,000.
“Our ballfield project required a very tight design schedule and, from the beginning, the professionals at Benesch rose to the challenge. They provided a thorough design that met all our expectations and produced very few change orders,” according to Mitchell Doht, PE, Director of Public Works and City Engineer. “Their commitment to quality during construction was unmatched. All project documentation was entirely complete and very well organized. They provided excellent customer service, and I think the finished product really speaks to the high level of performance by the professionals at Benesch. We are very pleased.”
Officials with the City of York and York Public Schools expect the complex to be a great resource not just for their own youth, but also to young athletes across the Midwest who will be drawn in by numerous baseball and softball tournaments. Public support, and the necessary funding for the new complex was ratified by a voter-approved one-half percent local sales tax increase earmarked for recreation and infrastructure improvements.
While economic benefits play an important role in sport complex projects, such as the one in York, they are not the sole objective. Investment in parks and recreation amenities are proven to increase a community’s quality of life, social importance and property values. According to the National Recreation and Park Association, no longer are cities limiting their view of essential public services to streets, water and public safety. Many also consider parks and recreation to be vital components of a strong community.