By COLE REIF
Great Bend Post
If the City of Great Bend, USD 428 and Great Bend Recreation Commission go forward with installing synthetic turf at the five ballfields at the Great Bend Sports Complex, just what is the return on investment? How quickly does the $1.4 million installation indirectly pay for itself?
There are a lot of variables, but the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism conducted an event impact summary of three large tournaments to be held at the Sports Complex this summer.
The facility, built in 2012, will host several youth baseball and softball tournaments this summer, but one of the largest happens in mid-June. Based on money spent in the community for lodging, gas, food, retail and other areas, the total direct return on investment (ROI) for the large youth tournament is $112,716.
Great Bend City Administrator Kendal Francis
noted in an effort to keep bringing these types of tournaments to town, it is important
to keep the complex upgraded and keep up in the arms race of sport facilities.
"Hays will entering into agreement to turf several of their fields," said Francis. "Pratt, Dodge City, Garden City, Hutchinson, Salina and McPherson...towns our size or bigger are going to the artificial turf."
The calculated ROI for hosting the Class 2-1A State Baseball Tournament at the end of May is $32,107. The ROI for the KCAC Baseball and Softball Tournaments in early May is $98,261. Those three tournaments alone, are projected to bring an ROI of over $243,000 to the community this year.
Great Bend Recreation Commission Sports Director Chris Umphres noted while keeping money coming into the city, the turf would also provide a great feature for the local children.
"We have three-year-old children out there playing blast ball," said Umphres. "Yes, the economic drive is awesome, but the quality of life for our local kids gives them the experience of turf."
The City of Great Bend proposed a plan that sees the city pay $920,000 for project to be handled by Hellas Construction for infields to be turfed. The proposal asks the school district to pay $280,000, while the Rec Commission would cover $200,000 and annual maintenance of the fields.
"It will start to impact the quality of teams we are able to attract," said Francis. "The sheer size of the tournaments will diminish as our facilities diminish."
The Great Bend Rec Board approved the letter of support for the project. The USD 428 Board of Education voted to delay a decision until gleaning for information.
The Great Bend City Council was expected to vote on the subject March 1, but without the school district’s letter of support it becomes unknown how the city will move forward. It is anticipated the school board will revisit the issue March 8.
"Some of our other fields around town dry up quicker than the Sports Complex following rain," said Umphres. "We have to move everyone scheduled to play at the complex, which is a nice place that everyone is excited to play at, and move them to Veterans Memorial Park. On rainy days, they get moved off."