After holding several youth baseball tournaments in 2020, the Union Parks and Recreation Department looked to continue that success.
But with some of the cities closing ball fields due to the pandemic last year, which is now reopening, Park Manager Chad Pohlmann said the private tournament companies have not returned. So the department takes matters into its own hands.
Union has planned baseball tournaments for young people on the weekends of 15 – 16 May and 19 – 20 June, with softball tournaments for girls to be played 22 – 23 May and 26 – 27 June. The city is looking for teams for the events, and does the job the organizers would normally be responsible for.
Before tournaments were played there in 2020, Veterans Memorial Park had not hosted youth tournaments since it opened in 2017. But the city opened for tournaments, with some tournaments attracting more than 30 teams from across the Midwest.
Pohlmann, who took over as park director in February 2020, said the facilities were built to host tournaments.
“It would be more desirable to have those companies that already have that infrastructure in place to advertise, register teams and bring in officials,” Pohlmann said. “But it looks like we’re not hosting anyone this year, so we may not have tournaments out here.”
Pohlmann has advertised the tournaments, connected networks and posted on websites that are popular with youth baseball, but he admits that it has been slow to attract teams to the Union tournaments. He looks for at least six teams per age group in the tournaments. “Even though we held a very small tournament that was six in any age group, we would experience it as a level of success.”
The chairman of the board approved an agreement on Monday 8 March with the Union Girls Softball Association to have volunteers aged 21 or older from the softball association’s staff the alcohol tent at the two softball tournaments. The city received its own liquor license to allow beer sales last year at tournaments.
Pohlmann said he is looking for another citizen group to work with the beer stands in the baseball tournaments. He said members of the park’s advisory board ran the outdoor seating in the 2020 tournaments, but with the city planning to run its own tournaments this year, they expect to be busy handling tournament operations.
People who work with the licensing stands during baseball and softball games are also not able to sell beer, Pohlmann said.
“We hire personnel for our normal concessions,” he said. “These tournaments are something out of the ordinary, so we do not normally hire people who are older or able to serve alcohol.”
The softball association will keep 70 percent of the profits from the sale of alcohol at the city’s softball tournaments, while the rest goes to the city.