September 22, 2014

Elyria
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New owners say business is good at Ridgeville sports complex

NORTH RIDGEVILLE — Owners of Victory Sports Park say business has been good this summer despite the continued lack of permanent restrooms and a restaurant-bar for the seven-field softball-soccer complex.

Victory Sports Park had to refurbish many of its ballfields for them to be playable this season, but bookings at the complex in North Ridgeville have been steady.

Victory Sports Park had to refurbish many of its ballfields for them to be playable this season, but bookings at the complex in North Ridgeville have been steady.

“We’ve had a good season, considering the new ownership didn’t take over till around Christmas time,” Tony Ballachino said.

Ballachino, the park’s director of athletics, said the complex has spent $200,000 to $300,000 to bring electrical service to power lights for the eight baseball-softball and two soccer fields and another $150,000 to put scoreboards up.

Rainy spring weather hampered work on a $700,000 two-story restaurant-bar being built at the center of several ballfields, Ballachino said. Plans call for the facility to have room for 300 customers in outdoor seating areas, an indoor dining area and an upper deck overlooking softball fields and sand volleyball courts.

“We’re looking to have that all ready to go for next spring,” Ballachino said.

A lack of permanent restrooms was one of the biggest complaints of teams and visitors to the 67-acre, $3 million complex, Ballachino said. About $45,000 was spent to bring in a temporary “executive restroom” trailer to provide enclosed restrooms with running water. Portable toilets had been used prior to the trailer being delivered earlier in the season.

The park also had to redo all of its infields and replace some fencing after the overall condition of the park fell into various degrees of disrepair. The previous owner struggled financially and lost the park when it was sold to his creditors.

“We had to regrade, re-sod, and reseed,” Ballachino said.

“I know the new owners have been trying very hard to get it operational,” Guy Fursdon, the city’s chief building inspector said in noting improvements to the park such as installation of electrical service.

The sports park has attracted about 200,000 ballplayers, spectators and others this season, according to Ballachino, most of them coming for weekend tournaments such as this weekend’s 2011 Men’s National Softball Association tournament slated to feature 34 teams from across Ohio.

Other events have drawn teams from Illinois, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

“We would not be able to attract these tournaments without doing upgrades,” Ballachino said.
Victory Sports Park is already getting “a huge response for next year,” according to Ballachino, and beyond, with discussions to bring Gaelic football games and a Senior Olympics event in 2013.

Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or sfogarty@chroniclet.com.