KINGSPORT — The city of Kingsport plans to retain the services of a nationally known sporting consultant who will review the city’s gymnasium and ball field inventory and determine if additional facilities are needed for the future.
Don Schumacher, president of Sports Marketing Management and Consulting, plans to visit the Model City in about two weeks and will work for a couple of months on a sports facility study for the city, according to Judd Teague, executive director of the Kingsport Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Teague said Schumacher is a leading consultant in the sports management industry and is the same one who conducted a similar study for Kingsport back in 1999, which resulted in an expanded Domtar Park and the creation of Eastman Park in Sullivan Gardens.
“The last time he came in and did a survey of our facilities in the areas of basketball and the needs at Domtar Park and soccer facilities,” Teague said. “This one will be a little bit of a coattail, and we’re getting a discount since he’s done a bunch of the background work already.”
The purpose of the study is to determine if Kingsport needs additional ball fields and gymnasiums to use for sports tournaments, such as with AAU and USSSA — events that bring in thousands of people and tax dollars each year.
Over the past several years Kingsport has hosted numerous youth and college-level sporting events through the AAU and USSSA organizations, including basketball, baseball, soccer, wrestling and golf. This year the city plans to host 14 such events, including sanctioned and home-grown events.
The scope of this new study is threefold, Teague said.
Schumacher will review the city’s baseball facilities for youth events and fast-pitch softball, determine if the city has enough gymnasiums for basketball tournaments, and review the swimming facilities and the need for enhanced aquatic facilities.
“What interests the KCVB is the ability to host younger age groups and fast-pitch softball. There is a need for more facilities to host bigger events than we already do,” Teague said. “We struggle in the summer with some of the young kids having enough fields. We have to go to Bristol, to Winged Deer Park, to other areas in the region to be able to pull (the tournaments) off.”
City leaders have said Kingsport in underserved when it comes to gymnasiums. However, additional ones will be coming online in the next few years — two new ones at the V.O. Dobbins Community Center, two at the new Boys and Girls Club facility, and another one at John Adams Elementary School.
“Is that enough to handle (the Kingsport Parks and Recreation Department’s) needs and our needs? We have the same situation with the gymnasiums as we do the baseball situation,” said Teague. “What happens in the winter and we’re in the schools and we’re at the mercy of the schools more times than not.”
Kingsport is in negotiations with Schumacher for him to visit the city the week of June 16 or June 23. The study will take a couple of months to complete and probably be issued the first week of September. Kingsport will pay Schumacher $18,000 to $20,000 for the study, which will come out of the city’s visitors enhancement program — a program funded by a portion of the hotel/motel tax.
Schumacher will then determine if anything is needed and propose options on how to create such facilities.
“Fast-pitch softball is where we’re missing out on some stuff. The demographics are very good in girls softball,” Teague said. “We can’t put all our eggs in one organizational basket. We need to create our own events like the horseshoe event, the band competition and wrestling in the fall, so we’re not bidding against cities such as Orlando, Detroit or New Orleans.”