Saturday, May 25, 2024

Connect with us:

Village views Lansing Sports Complex as a destination for tournaments

LANSING, Ill. (April 28, 2024) – There’s a new vision for the Lansing Sports Complex.

The baseball, softball, and outdoor volleyball facility located on the village’s north side at 16500 Chicago Avenue is now back under the village’s oversight. This comes after a long period of it being leased by the Lan-Oak Park District and managed by the Lansing Old Timers.

The plan, according to Lansing director of venue operations Ken Reynolds, is to keep the complex as a home for Lansing teams and at the same time increase utilization by bringing in outside events.

Hosting bigger tournaments

That starts this summer with three invitational baseball tournaments: June 13-16 for 14/15U, June 20-23 for 13/14U, and July 11-14 for 17/18U.

The pitch to travel-ball teams is to be able to play an entire tournament in one place with all the trappings of a big-time event. The tourneys would feature public-address announcers, music between games and between innings, a concession stand with a grill and — perhaps most importantly for parents already footing a hefty bill for kids playing travel ball — free parking and free admission.

“The whole idea is to preach quality over quantity,” Reynolds said. “Part of what happened over the years, strength in numbers in volunteers in so many communities has waned. It’s shifted (from in-house leagues) to travel ball.

“Everybody wants to go somewhere else (rather) than play the host.”

Lansing Little League
A field at the Lansing Sports Complex in 2021. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

Upgrades and improvements

The complex fields are still host to Lansing Little League baseball and Lansing Girls Softball. That’s the status quo maintained by the village after it took over management, even in the COVID summer of 2020 when games were held with pandemic mitigation procedures.

But even then, Reynolds said, “we said we have to start looking at this and getting it back up to the quality it used to be.”

That means infrastructure upgrades, including the possibility of installing artificial turf, restructuring parking lots, and expanding the facility’s footprint.

One way to help pay for the improvements is to tap into the excess capacity for baseball, especially for the so-called big field for older players. The Lansing Redbirds travel team has shut down and Heritage Christian High School of Dyer has stopped hosting games at the complex.

“On the big field in particular we don’t have any local games going on,” Reynolds said. “[It’s] where we see the most immediate potential for having these types of tournaments.”

Registration is underway now for the three tourneys, which will be capped at six teams each. All games will have two certified umpires and teams will be guaranteed three games.

The entry fee of $950 includes game balls.

More information is available from Dave Soderstrom at 708-514-1495 or by emailing [email protected].

The bottom line, according to Reynolds, is that while the fields will host more out-of-town teams, “we will always have a place for our Lansing kids to play.”

Mike Clark
Mike Clark
Mike Clark is a veteran journalist who has been covering sports in the Chicago area and beyond, from preps to pros, for more than four decades.