Originally published on News Enterprise on June 26, 2020.
After a four-month shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, baseball is coming back to the Elizabethtown Sports Park when the facility opens with new safety procedures in mid-July. Built in 2012, the complex features 25 fields for a variety of sports spread across 158 acres.
According to Janna Clark, Executive Director of Elizabethtown Tourism, the Sports Park hosts nearly 70 events each year, bringing more than 60,000 athletes to the area. Clark said the pandemic-forced shutdown caused 25 events to be canceled.
“It represents about 55,000 hotel nights, and 10 million dollars of impact to our local community,” Clark said. “As an economic driver to this community the Sports Park is a valuable part of rebuilding our economy locally.”
There is now a plan for bringing sports back to the complex for the first time during the pandemic, starting with baseball and softball on July 10. The reopening plan calls for no-touching among the athletes, even eliminating high-fives and fist-bumps. While players will not be required to wear face masks while competing, officials may have to depending on how close they get, and they are recommended for spectators in tight areas. Clark said the Sports Park will have a team disinfecting the facility and social distancing will be stressed.
“We’ve already communicated to families already. Bring your own chairs. Have your blankets. Bring additional shade. The areas that you would usually congregate will be off-limits,” she said.
The Sports Park will host both local and out-of-town teams, and Clark said they will keep diligent records for contact tracing should it be needed. While the experience will be different for everyone, Clark believes an important part of summer will return when kids can once again play ball.
“We are beyond excited. And not only the sports park. Our community is looking forward to it,” she said. “All of our businesses are hurting right now. And our hearts are hurting a little. So we need some baseball and a little bit of normalcy for our kids.”