A fourth field in the first phase of Decarsky Park took a step closer to becoming a reality.
Following a unanimous 5-0 vote, the Derby Recreation Commission approved the addition of the field. Also part of the vote was making the infield on all four fields turf, but the outfields would be grass.
That discussion will now move to the City Council, who will review the agreement at its April 23 meeting.
Restrictions in funding initially put this phase as three fields, a dog park and all needed amenities for the fields (concessions, parking, restrooms etc).
Through meetings with the Sports Force, the city’s consultant, members of its own staff as well as community stakeholders, the DRC made the recommendation of a fourth field in order to attract better tournaments and conduct league play.
In the report published in its board agenda ahead of its April 9 meeting, the
DRC said the addition of a fourth field would allow it to double the amount of
teams that it would have if there were only three. It would also help recruit
teams to each tournament.
“There’s such a large difference between three fields and four fields, especially when you throw turf into that mix,” DRC superintendent Chris Drum said. “It’s why we’ve been somewhat adamant in adding that fourth field… that was a large factor for us and there is a lot of demand for almost guaranteed games.”
These fields would be available to baseball teams up to 12U and softball teams through 18U. Drum also said additional phases to Decarsky Park would allow for bigger fields for baseball.
The DRC had asked the City of Derby to add an alternative bid that included the addition of a fourth field. Initial estimates priced the field at $750,000, but saw that price fall to $560,000. A 15-year financed plan would be between $49,000-$52,000 per year, including closing costs.
Marketability was a huge draw for the DRC and staff as the nearest turf fields were all 140- plus miles away. They also believe using other fields in Derby, such as High Park, could potentially draw a tournament of up to 64 teams.
According to the report published by Sports Force, Two Rivers Youth Club and South Lakes (both in Wichita) are the biggest tournament hubs used by tournament operators Midwest Sports Promotions and United States Speciality Sports Association (USSA).
The report states that after these complexes are tied up, they’ve been forced to use fields that are at greater distances than Derby. A newer complex at Decarsky Park could drive teams to Derby instead of using complexes in Colwich, Haysville and Augusta.
Projections for tournaments include 27 available weekends over a 31-week period from the third week of March through the third week of October.
While the DRC said tournament revenue has decreased in general, numbers indicate that has more to do with weather issues than interest.
“A lot of people aren’t taking vacations, but are instead taking their families to baseball and softball tournaments,” Drum said. “There is a lot of money spent and when you make a commitment to a community to play in a tournament with turf fields, it’s a huge drawing factor.”