Major League Maintenance
The city of Goodyear, Ariz., hit a homerun in 2009 with the addition of the Goodyear Park and Recreation Complex. The new facility is the spring training home for two Major League Baseball teams, the Cleveland Indians and the Cincinnati Reds, and is accompanied by a recreational complex for the community that delivers entertainment, revenue and a place to play ball.
The park provides 8,000 stadium seats, six suites, 500 premium seats and a party deck.
“The ballpark gives us a great venue with its vaulted infrastructure, seating and concessions to host major city events,” says Mike Svetz, Director of Parks and Recreation for Goodyear. It hosts holiday, church, symphony and other community events.
The $108-million project includes ballparks, clubhouses and practice fields for each team. The recreational complex was built on a 100-acre site about a quarter-mile south of the Goodyear Ballpark.
Residential Use Of The Facilities
During the remaining 10 months of the year, each team's other four fields (eight total) are available to the city for recreational leagues and special events, like state and national baseball tournaments.
The project was funded in part by a 10-mill bond issue approved by residents in 2004. Additional funding included $55 million from the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority (in the form of reimbursement), and the remainder from private development.
Additional efforts to include the community in the complex were the installation of grass parking lots that double as softball and football fields, primarily on weekends.
Field reservations usually pick up beginning in October as the Arizona heat cools down and makes it more comfortable for outdoor recreation.
Being A Team Player
Hosting the Indians and Reds provides synergy, additional advertising opportunities and increased tourism possibilities, according to city officials. The Indians complex was completed in September 2008 and the Reds complex was completed in August 2009.
In addition to the clubhouses the teams use year-round for training and rehabilitating injured players, the teams control the pitching mounds, batting cages, tunnels and observation towers. Each team also controls two half-practice fields, one agility field and two of the full practice fields.
Each team’s year-round presence on the field begins with spring training and continues through rookie and instructional leagues. It is because of this ongoing presence that the fields must be maintained at the highest level.
Maintaining The Fields
The city provides all maintenance for the park. According to lease agreements with both teams, the city is expected to maintain the fields to a Major League Baseball standard. “The horticulture is crucial,” says Svetz. “Turf maintenance is a priority, and we have a very strong grounds crew.”
The city has about 25 full-time maintenance staff for the fields and a multitude of part-time and seasonal staff. A larger staff is utilized during spring training and also for key city events.
Svetz compares the “meticulous” standards to the levels of golf-course turf maintenance. “You have country clubs and public courses. The more volume you have, the more meticulous you have to be.”
“MLB standards are really the highest possible level,” says Svetz. “The fields must be groomed daily to ensure safety.”
Heather Reichle is a freelance writer living in Columbus, Ohio. She can be reached via e-mail at HReichle28@yahoo.com