Out of the Park | nnbusinessview.com

Out of the Park

Sally Roberts
sroberts@nnbw.biz
Spectators, mostly from out of state, watch during opening day of the Girls Fastpitch Softball Tournament at the Sports Complex at Golden Eagle Regional Park in Sparks.
Courtesy City of Sparks |

Golden Eagle Regional Park is proving a boon to the economy of the area as well as an exciting place for sporting events that draw national tournaments.

The recently released economic report for the 2015 fiscal year for the 140-acre park in northeast Sparks shows that 50 tournaments brought 2,172 sport teams to the complex. That resulted in a $22.3 million economic impact to the Truckee Meadows from money visitors spent on food, lodging and retail purchases.

The direct income from field rentals was $150,000, a 25 percent increase from the 2014 fiscal year.

City Councilwoman Charlene Bybee represents Ward 4 and lives near the facility. She knew the complex was doing well but was still surprised at the actual numbers.

“Last year was pretty impressive,” she said in a phone interview.

“It’s a one-of-a-kind facility that brings in more teams and more tourists who have never been here before and don’t know what northern Nevada has to offer. …

“It’s exciting to see it successful.”

One example of the impact is a new tournament added in June that brought 68 teams from 11 states — including Hawaii. Team members and their entourage booked 5,600 room nights.

“We have every single weekend booked out (with tournaments) from February through November,” Tony Pehle, recreation supervisor for the City of Sparks Parks & Recreation Department, said in a phone interview with NNBW.

Tournaments don’t just generate revenue and economic benefits; they also generate national exposure for the region.

In 2015, Golden Eagle Regional Park hosted the Triple Crown Sports 18U/Gold National Championship, which brought 80 teams. CBS Sports Network featured five hours of nationally televised live coverage from Golden Eagle of the championship

“It’s an exceptional location,” Pehle said. “People come from all over the country to experience the complex and what Reno-Sparks has to offer.”

And that’s just tournaments. Thanks to the 14-million square feet of artificial turf — the largest single installation of artificial turf in North America — the fields are used year round.

“We have fields rented for practices and skirmishes even in the dead of winter,” he said.

Late June and all of July are the busiest time of year for the complex, which includes six softball fields, two baseball fields, four youth baseball/softball fields, two stadium sized football/soccer/multi-purpose fields, two bocce ball courts, three concessions, and a 3,600 square foot restaurant and sports bar.

The parks department recently installed two basketball courts with painting to be completed soon.

Three batting cages are planned for installation in the 2016 fiscal year.

Long-term plans waiting for funding include two to three additional multi-purpose fields and expansion of the parking area, Pehle said.

“There’s room for some expansion,” Bybee said. “We’re going to look at what the next phase of expansion would be. It’s something we’re going to look into. It’s well used and a positive (facility) for our community.”

While the direct income from field rentals covers the city’s staffing costs during the events, it doesn’t cover the overall budget of the complex — which comes from a number of funding pots and is hard to pin down, Pehle said — that’s not the point. Neighborhood parks are a quality-of-life feature and don’t pay for themselves either.

Large park complexes like Golden Eagle are about the economic impact they have on the region, and that’s significant.

Pehle said the Sparks City Council has been pleased at what has been accomplished at the park since it opened in 2008.

“The mayor (Geno Martini) has commented that we knew it would be successful, but we never expected it to be as successful as it is.”


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