Golden Eagle has been very successful with teams from all over the country and many local teams using its fields.
“It’s amazing. I was just handling the softball end of it and we’ve been booked since day one from basically March 1 through the middle of November with softball tournaments, both youth and adult, every single weekend,” said city of Sparks recreation supervisor Tony Pehle. “We get calls from across the country, from a group out of Massachusetts to Florida, wherever, asking if they can rent the complex for tournaments. We find ways to get in as many of them as we can but it’s just slammed.“
Golden Eagle’s 100 acres comprise six adult-sized softball fields, two baseball fields and two youth softball-baseball fields and more. Golden Eagle is booked year round. In the spring and summer, the field is used literally every day. In the off seasons, like late November into February the all weather field gives teams the options to still get in some practices.
“It got so bad that we had to give permits to the park rangers to go out there and tell people, ‘Have you rented the field? If not you need to fill out this application and pay for it,’” Pehle explained. “We’re charging just to rent it for organized practices. If a mom and dad and a couple kids go out there and play, they’re still able to. But as far as organized practices, they have to have a permit and it’s just non-stop.”
The Golden Eagle facility has become a huge hit, and not just with youth and adult athletic programs.
“They (the community) love it,” Pehle said. “I’m out there quite often and it’s amazing how many people from the community go out there just to walk, take hikes, bike rides around the park. I’m amazed at how many people are out there that have nothing to do with the youth sports or adult sports, that are just out there because they think it’s beautiful.”
Softball tournaments, both youth and adult can attract attention at a national and regional level, pulling in visitors from all over the country.
“We’ve held some national tournaments. We’ve got a lot of big tournaments that continue to grow. Our senior softball USA tournament that’s been held here annually for 20 years was stuck in its size. But now that we’ve expanded to this complex the numbers are just crazy,” Pehle said. “It was well over 200 last year and they came back to us and wanted to expand it to additional days to make it even bigger. It’s their biggest qualifier in the country and having this facility has allowed us to expand some of these tournaments and make them even bigger that they were before. “
With this many teams, the visitors start to pile up, bring in more tourism commerce to the area.
“This eventually means tax dollars for room rentals and car rentals, air fares, gas, food and entertainment here in town,” Pehle said. “All of that makes a big impact on the community. With as much we’ve been able to book it out there it’s made a large impact on the financial security of our community.”
The facility has a space in the center of the adult fields for a restaurant that has been vacant the last two years. This will hopefully be changing this summer when the company that owns Red’s Old 395 restaurant in Carson City and the Little Waldorf in Reno will open a restaurant there.
With great popularity has come some hurdles. For one, some of the infields have gotten some wear and tear and are currently being replaced. The company that installed the artificial turf, FieldTurf, has improved its product, Pehle said, and is replacing the old and worn turf with the new product at no cost to the city.
“They’re bringing people from across the country to look at our facility to try and sell their product,” Pehle explained. “They’re real quick to say ‘Hey, we’ll replace it for free.’ So it’s not costing the city or the tax payers any additional money to get those replaced.”
Parking has also been a challenge. Pehle said there have been some events where double the parking space would have been filled up. Fortunately, that problem hasn’t come up too often.
So as Sparks says happy birthday to Golden Eagle, the city and residents can only hope for more to come from a complex very unique to northern Nevada.
“I think the future of Golden Eagle is just going to bright as far as helping the city of Sparks out of the financial situation that the economy has put us in,” Pehle said. “Being able to rent the fields and having major events out there and brining players and teams from out of town is just going to help our city of the future for years to come.