Sports Force Park @ Cedar Point Sports Complex - Sandusky, Ohio
Had the opportunity to play at the recently opened Sports Force Park in Sandusky this weekend and wanted to take a moment to review the experience for others who might be thinking about attending a tournament there.
1. The facility itself is top notch. In a few years when the trees have grown, it will be even better. The turf is very, very nice. Lots of stuff for siblings to do around the facility while games are happening.
2. They had a large soccer field and several batting tunnels set aside for warm ups. This was very nice.
3. The team trophies and player medals were as nice as you'll find at any tournament you play.
1. We had entered the Coaster Classic before it was moved to the new facility. Communication about the switch was limited from the City of Sandusky and then communication from the new facility wasn't the best. They wanted more paperwork than any other tournament that we have ever attended. The schedule wasn't posted until 5 days before the tournament opened. For people needing to take off work, this creates numerous problems.
2. The fields all had cinder block backstops that were waist high and not padded at all. To me, this seemed like a major safety issue both for catchers chasing foul pop ups and for umpires who had to duck balls coming right back at them. I was really surprised they didn't have those block walls padded.
3. They had no safety bases at first. As the Dad of a first baseman, this is a major pet peeve of mine. At a facility of this caliber, knowing they were going to be hosting softball games, this is simply unacceptable.
4. We were never quite sure what rules we were playing under. I never saw anything that said ASA, USSSA, NF, etc. Maybe I just missed it, but I don't think so. There were a couple of pages of tournament rules that were obviously designed for baseball (no pitchers allowed to re-enter games for example), but even those rules were only sporadically followed. In one pool play game, we had an umpire flat out tell us we were not playing by their tournament rules. They also decided, without any notice, to change a couple of the rules. We had no idea until the pre-game coaches meeting at the plate.
5. The umpiring was a mixed bag. It seemed that in a couple of our games we had umpires more interested in getting the game over than in maintaining the integrity of the game. We had one umpire calling girls out for leaving base early with the girls standing on the bag when the mercy rule was still very much in doubt. He could have very easily cost himself another inning. He then proceeded to call a ridiculously large strike zone to make sure he was done as soon as possible. In the championship game, the plate umpire refused to allow our pitcher more than a single warm-up pitch in the first inning and threatened to throw out anyone who protested. I've NEVER seen that before. He then refused to allow appeals on check swings and had the wrong count costing one of our girls a BB and refused to check with the official scorer or the base umpire on the count. It's one thing to be an obnoxious jerk when you're right but it's so much worse when you're wrong which he was. I'm not sure where they got the umpires or who they were licensed through (they didn't have ASA or USSSA gear), but teams have the right to expect better. I know at least one game was delayed nearly 30 minutes when the two teenage umpires didn't show up on time.
6. You're going to pay for EVERYTHING there. I get it. They're trying to make money. But, not to allow a team cooler is ridiculous. In an email prior to the tournament, they promised to have full coolers of water in the dugout for each game which they used as the rationale for not being able to bring anything into the facility. Well, on Saturday it's 90+ degrees and sure enough, our water cooler is empty and we've got a girl sick from the heat. We flagged down a golf cart and they promised water was on its way. Two innings later we're still out of water. I approach the official scorer, who is a uniformed employee of the facility with a radio, and ask him to radio to get us some water and that we have a sick girl. He was exceptionally rude and informed me that water "wasn't his job." He refused to make the simple radio call asking someone to get us water. What a joke. Also, the water was only in the dugouts. Games were consistently behind schedule, so if you needed water in the 90 minutes to 2 hours you were there before your game started then the only option was to dig deep and buy a bottle.
7. A related item - if they aren't going to let you bring in food and then charge very high prices you for what you buy there, they need to have their concessions adequately staffed. Extremely long lines made it difficult to get food between games. It's bad enough to pay $10 for a turkey sub, but don't make people wait forever to get it!
8. The tournament set up itself was very strange. Without any notice, they decided to create two tournaments out of one. We think they made it*separate 12U and 11U tournaments, but nobody made it clear that it was done that way. When we signed up and paid for the Coaster Classic it was a 3 pool play followed by bracket play format. When the tournament scheduled was finally released, they had changed the format. It was still three pool play games but then it just got weird. The top 4 teams went directly to a semi-final with 1 playing 4 and 2 playing 3 and then on to a championship game. For everyone else (16 teams in just the 12/11U groups), they got only a single friendly game on Sunday and then their tournament was done. No chance to advance, no chance to play more than the single game. I know of at least one situation where a team decided it wasn't worth their time and just didn't show up on Sunday. That left their opponent ready to play, warmed up and at the field with no opponent. Shame on the team that didn't show up. Even bigger shame on Sports Force Park who created the situation and then only offered a $50 refund to the team who was promised at least 4 games and only got 3 with no weather issues at all over the weekend.
9. Since we were originally signed up for the Coaster Classic, we got a price break. But, other teams paid $695 and the facility is Stay to Play. I guess more power to them if they can get people to pay it, but in my opinion, that is way over priced even with the nice facility, especially given the gate fee and no outside food/drink policy.
10. They have major issues with their parking. How they could have built this facility and not done a parking study is beyond me. They set up off-site parking with a shuttle service to handle to overflow. We managed to get a parking space all three days, but I have to believe it was a huge inconvenience for people who were forced to use the off-site parking.
In conclusion, it's a very nice facility with the potential to host a really awesome softball tournament. But, they fell far short of that potential this weekend. They seem to be a jack of all sports (baseball, softball, soccer, football, lacrosse, etc) but certainly don't have the expertise that we regularly see to run a softball tournament. Given the price point, we won't be back.
Last edited by reagansdaddy; 06-19-2017 at 12:51 PM.
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