After a soft opening in mid-May, action at the new four-field Players Softball Complex on the northeastern edge of town is now in full swing.
Four softball leagues currently play their games there.
So far, the transition from the old fields has been pretty smooth, said Hub City Softball Association President Dewey Tullar. It took some time to get the scheduling sorted out, he said.
“I think it’s fair to say we’ve never all shared one complex,” Tullar said. “I think that’s been an adjustment, but it’s been a really good thing. I think it’s great to have everybody in the same place, and (it) creates an even better atmosphere.”
Work on the $4.2 million complex started in May 2021. The fields have outfield walls that are 300 feet away from home plate, allowing for adult softball play.
In past years, softball leagues used both complexes in town. The old Players Complex fields are just to the north of the new fields. And the Moccasin Creek Complex is in southern Aberdeen.
At the new complex, the softball association is in control of the concession stands. The hope is to use the money from concessions for future softball improvements.
“The whole idea behind us taking on the concession stand was that we would have a way to generate some revenue that we could put back into Aberdeen softball,” Tullar said.
New fields part of a three-phase project
The new fields are part of a three-phase project. The second phase would remove the four smaller existing fields just north of the new complex and replace them with three fields with 300-foot fences.
For now, though, Mark Hoven, Aberdeen Parks, Recreation and Forestry director, said the city will “sit back and do a little review” of the project.
Phase three would involve shortening the existing fields at Moccasin Creek complex so they can be used for youth games. The next phases are contingent on funding.
This is the first time the softball association has been in charge of concession stands.
“We took the concession stand knowing that we’re going to do this and never have done it before, but going along the way, being open to making mistakes and making adjustments has been really cool,” Hub City Softball Association board member Mike Hauge said. “It’s gone far beyond what I thought it could do.”
Tournaments are another way for the group to raise money, and the new fields have already drawn statewide interest. They will host the Men’s 12-inch State E Tournament Aug. 6 and 7. Entry fee for the tournament is $250, and the deadline to enter the tournament is on July 25.
That’ll benefit the community beyond just softball, Hoven said.
“It’ll be big. Obviously, when they come they’ll use our hotel rooms, they will eat in our restaurants, they’ll fill up at our gas stations, there’s all that there. We’ll see a lot of extra income that comes in from those state tournaments, so they’re big moneymakers for the city,” Hoven said.
The new complex also host the Women’s 11-inch State Tournament next season, along with a men’s 12-inch recreational state tournament in 2023.
Aberdeen hasn’t hosted a state tournament for 28 years, Tullar said, and the new fields helped change that.
“Without the updated facilities and the 300-foot fences, there was no reason for us to even bother bidding in the past because the facilities everywhere else were so much better,” he said.
The complex will also host The Zoo tournament, which is scheduled for July 9-10. There’s room for 16 teams.
The new complex, with its improved lighting, bleachers, concession stand, scoreboards and the like is near Fossum Field along Eighth Avenue Northeast.
Local softball fans and officials have been hoping for facility improvements for years as the both the Players and Moccasin Creek complexes are about four decades old.