Tonight at 6 p.m., residents will have an opportunity to attend the third in a series of town hall meetings being held at the Dave Landrum Community Center for residents to learn about a dream in the making — The Osage County Sports Park.
Three years ago, Beth Reed found herself the youth director for Pawhuska’s baseball and softball program which had 12 teams. Today, there are 18 teams with participants hailing from all over Osage County. Reed says it is inevitable that Pawhuska will someday have its own league. She said having over 125 homes games during the summer recreation program puts a lot of strain on the PHS softball and Indian Camp baseball fields.
For more than 50 years, there has been talk about a community-wide sports center. Talk became a reality last May when the Journal-Capital reported the Osage County Commissioners had given a green light for Phase I of the Osage County Sports Park. Serving the youth of all of Osage County, the complex will utilize 20-25 acres of public-owned land located north of the Osage County Sherriff’s Office. Implementation of the project was contingent upon a survey, safety considerations and the park’s final design.
Phil Pennington of Penn Athletic Fields has begun the dirt work.
Reed explained, "I’ve been working with Phil since day one. He was the first person to evaluate the property and began drawing up plans. Phil has built over 160 sports complexes across the state. He also understands this facility is being funded without tax dollars – that this is a privately funded undertaking. This is what I really want people to understand. We want this park built by the people, for the people. It will be for ALL Osage County youth!"
The completed design will include four high-school sized softball fields, one high-school baseball field along with a 10 and under and two 12 and under youth baseball fields, permanent concession facilities, bleachers, water systems, restrooms, indoor training facilities, lights, parking, and equipment. All fields will be available for regular season league games, including adult soft ball leagues. Tournaments will draw participants from all of Oklahoma and Kansas.
"The economic impact on Pawhuska and Osage County will be phenomenal," said Reed. "In the U.S., an estimated 35 million kids participate in organized sports. On game days, each child brings an average of two people who spend between $5 - $7. Factoring in revenue from uniforms, travel, lodging and practice facilities, the potential is unlimited for Pawhuska. The new sports park will generate year-round business and provide job opportunities for 4-6 full-time positions and at least 25 part-time."
Reed explained that the Sports Park has additional goals.
"We want to help our youth. I was talking to a judge the other day who said, ‘Five years ago I did not think the drug problem (in Osage County) could get any worse than it was, but it has.’ I’ve also visited with police friends who agreed the drug problem is getting worse. We believe the Sports Park will help to reverse this trend.
"Sports-related activities keep youngsters busy and out of trouble. There are proven statistics that kids involved with sports make better grades and are more likely to go to college. In addition, 92 percent of girls are less likely to get involved with drugs and 80 percent less likely to get pregnant.
"Being part of a team enables them to learn life-long habits of success — teamwork, working with others, developing friendships, responsibility and commitment. For some, this may be the catalyst for them to become a part of something. The Sports Park will provide these opportunities at a very nominal cost. Ultimately, these children will have the added foundation towards making them responsible adults."
Before soliciting donations, Reed wanted the public to see the Sports Park was becoming a reality. Additional information is available on the website, OsageCountySports.com.
"Hundreds of volunteer hours have gone into making this dream a reality," said Reed. "So far we have raised $90,000 from private donations. We estimate the entire project to be valued at around $700,000 and that’s without lights. It’s a lot of money, but in five years, the sports complex could be bringing in 50,000+ people to Pawhuska to play ball.
"The economic impact will be over a million dollars. We are basically building a million dollar facility that the county will own. That’s what people need to understand. We are not asking for people’s tax money. The sports park is a new business for Pawhuska. We will be bringing in county and city tax dollars. Local businesses will benefit as visitors purchase gas, eat in our restaurants and shop in our stores. It is a trickledown effect."
Reed indicated she has already received some verbal commitments to help defray expenses with this project along with volunteer time and services. But, cash is essential to keep the ball rolling. Opportunities exist for donors to have an event, individual tournament, a field or the entire park named after them, in honor of a family member, etc.
"We are hoping people will realize this complex will affect not only today’s generation but generations to come," said Reed. "I’ve had people say, my children are grown but I want to help my grandchildren and provide something special for their children."
Osage County Sports is a 501c3 tax exempt entity and all donations are tax deductible. Donations can be mailed to Osage County Sports Fund, c/o Tulsa Community Foundation, 7030 S. Yale Suite 600, Tulsa, OK. 74136. For more information, visit www:OsageCountySports.com or call Beth Reed at 918-607-9861 or Jerry Mosley at 918-287-9999 or 918-607-3045.
In lieu of cash, there are opportunities for the Sport Park’s wish list. These include pipe, bags of concrete, 10 and 11 gauge chain link fencing, concession equipment, dirt work, sod, infield dirt, bases, construction of an indoor training facility, a maintenance building and concession stands, mowing equipment, stocking of the maintenance facility, 3ft. and 5ft. plastic or galvanized pipe culverts, railroad flat cars (to be used for bridges over storm water creek), scoreboards for each field, gravel, asphalt and fill dirt.