SportsPlex lite is alive in Dayton!

While our city “leaders” pursue a pipe dream clone of the Greene to be called “Ball Park Village” a private investor sees the value of a first class recreation complex near a highway:

Refurbished facility could be sports event destination
Mike Murphy walked through the rain recently to give a brief tour of the Action Sports Center…

In the month since Murphy became the facilities managing partner, he has been as much trash collector as marketing manager, and as much janitor as engineer. While re-branding the former Gateway Sports Park, the former minor-league pitcher has noticed everything from scuff marks to soccer field layout issues.

In his mind, Murphy envisions a flawless facility that will become a major destination for area youth sports and beyond. To get there, the engineer by education and marketing manager by experience will handle all of the centers issues, from his “gotta-dos” and “need-to-dos” whiteboard lists to business meetings and presentations.

“Theres really as much brute force labor as spending a lot of money,” Murphy said.

Thats because, Murphy said, hes starting with a good product. The complex has eight diamonds for baseball and softball with lights and scoreboards, five outdoor soccer fields, an indoor soccer field, a 29,000-square-foot indoor facility and a driving range. He envisions the 40-acre property near Ohio 4 east of downtown Dayton as a corporate retreat destination as well as a place for both youth players and parents to enjoy tournaments.

But theres work to do. The driving range, for example, boasts the unique lake setup — golfers hit into the water — but has been closed because the ball-retrieving device doesnt work properly.

“Add it to the board,” Murphy said. “Thats a gotta-do.”

With enough gotta-dos checked off, many feel the Action Sports Center can become a draw for youth sports tournaments.

“We’ve been working to bring some national-level World Series tournaments here,” said Gregg Beemer, vice president of operations for the Midwest Ohio Baseball League. “That place, when run properly, managed properly and staffed properly — which are all things I know Mike is intimately aware of — would be a great spot.”

And youth tournaments mean money. It was estimated last month that the Warrior Soccer Classic brought close to $7.5 million in economic impact to the area.

“The impact of a youth or amateur sports event is significant,” said Jacquelyn Powell, president and CEO of the Dayton/Montgomery County Convention and Visitors Bureau. “There are a number of cities we compete against for these events, and a facility like this is a great asset.”

Not just for tournaments, Murphy hopes, but day-to-day activities. He envisions holding corporate retreats using his facilities and beefing up the indoor and outdoor soccer leagues. He has discussed partnering with a day-care service to help parents juggling multiple children while at the complex. Picnics are also possible.

As a coach and parent himself, Murphy has experienced tournaments first-hand. It’s most important, he said, for the players and parents to be entertained as much away from the field as on the field.

“Its a mini-sports cruise ship,” Murphy said. “Thats how I’m viewing this.”

While I envision more than just baseball and football fields on the Parkside homes location- things like an indoor football facility, track, velodrome, natatorium, ice arena, BMX track, skateboard park, whitewater park and more- the idea of sports facilities as an economic development engine makes more sense than a pop-up disney land shopping site- with cookie-cutter chains. Tied in with the new Kroc basketball facility, we would have a ribbon of sports complexes from Downtown over to Old North Dayton- all tied in with our amazing bikeway system.

It’s unfortunate our city “leaders” think that 2 mediocre rec centers are better than 1 mega one. Look at how Kettering has their complex including water park, pool and ice arena on Glengarry drive. Need I say more?

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2 Responses

  1. J.R. Locke June 18, 2008 / 9:05 pm
    Access to a 24 hour basketball court/gym is in my top 3 things I want in a city. The others reliable public transportation and cheap housing. A huge multiplex instead of regionalized small ones would be great for folks like me but Dayton is far to regionalized to make it worth it.

    Brilliant or Bozo? Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

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