Sports

Prospect Meadows busy again with baseball and softball this summer

A field at Prospect Meadows in Marion. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
A field at Prospect Meadows in Marion. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — The next couple of weeks will allow Steve James and his staff an opportunity to catch their collective breath.

The new Prospect Meadows baseball and softball complex in Marion has been crazy busy the past two months. Finally.

“We’ve got a showcase this weekend, but travel ball is more or less (done) until Labor Day weekend,” James said. “We might have some things here and there, but it’ll ramp back up in September and get real busy again. That’ll be good.”

The coronavirus pandemic put a major kink into plans for Prospect Meadows’ first full year of operation. The $12-million facility had its grand opening late last May.

All spring events obviously were canceled. As Iowa began to open back up, a June 5 tournament was Prospect Meadows’ first event for 2020.

It has been full go since that date.

“We’ve been sort of ramped up, really, every weekend since then,” said James, Prospect Meadows’ General Manager. “We’ve had a lot of local youth play during the week, whether it’s youth baseball or youth softball and all that.

“We’ve had some real good numbers on the tournaments because we are getting teams from all over the Midwest, out of state. That’s been their first opportunity to get out and play. From that standpoint, I think people have been excited to just get out and play baseball and watch their kids play baseball. So that was a good thing to see.”

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James stressed he and his staff have done everything they can to make Prospect Meadows a safe place. James said all staff wear masks, bathrooms are being extra sanitized and plexiglass barriers have been set up to keep employees such as ticket takers and concessions workers away from the public and vice versa.

Social distancing for seating is being highly encouraged.

“For us, as long as our staff is doing what it is supposed to do, we feel the risk is pretty minimal, considering we’re outside,” James said.

Perfect Game USA is the main tenant for Prospect Meadows and has hosted numerous tournaments in various age groups. James said the Iowa state men’s 14-inch slow-pitch softball tournament also is a big event on the immediate docket.

“It’s been a joy to get back going,” he said. “The only positive we could take from being shut down for three months was it allowed our grounds to mature a little bit. Last year, as soon as we opened, we had grass trying to grow, but people were walking all over in the patron’s area. That was kind of a good thing that it matured a little bit. But the drought the last three weeks has kind of made everything dormant anyway.”

As James mentioned, fall youth leagues, tournaments and showcases get going in earnest in September. Prospect Meadows will remain busy.

“Just getting people out there has been great,” he said. “Our staff has done a great job of being diligent with protocols and making sure we’re doing what we can to encourage safe practices, the best practices to keep not only ourselves safe but the patrons that come as well.”

Comments: (319) 398-8259; jeff.johnson@thegazette.com

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