Smithfield to run its own baseball tournaments

Published 12:56 pm Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Smithfield Recreation Association to have schedule preference for events

By Ryan Kushner

Staff writer

The town of Smithfield is gearing up to host and manage its own baseball tournaments at the new Joseph W. Luter Jr. sports complex, a $4 million ball park slated to be completed later this year.

The sporting events will be managed by the town’s Parks and Recreation Department, according to Smithfield Vice Mayor Andrew Gregory, and will run depending on the availability of the fields. Smithfield Recreation Association (SRA), a nonprofit on deck to manage the maintenance of the park, will have first dibs on using the ball fields.

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As for exactly how many tournaments the town plans to run in a year, Gregory said “everything’s on the table at this point.”

Parks and Recreation Director Amy Musick said in an email that the town is working with SRA, Isle of Wight County, and Isle of Wight County schools on determining a schedule and the number of tournaments for each organization.

“It will just be a matter of availability, just as booking The Smithfield Center depends on available dates,” Musick said. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

SRA President Chris Kennedy said that his organization currently hosts three tournaments a year at its present location, Beale Park.

As SRA’s major programs run typically from early March to the beginning of June, Gregory said that whatever tournaments the town manages will likely fall within the “dog days” of summer.

Smithfield Parks and Recreation is scheduled to hire one new employee this year, who will likely play a role in managing the tournaments, as well as help with maintaining Windsor Castle Park, Gregory said.

The town and SRA have been hashing out a lease agreement for SRA to manage the maintenance of the fields since January.

The latest version has been sent back from SRA to the town with “a few minor revisions,” according to Gregory, who added that from what he understood, the changes were “not anything earth shattering.”

He believes that one more meeting between the two entities will end in a finalized agreement, which should happen soon.

Regarding usage, Gregory said he doesn’t think any organization wants the task of managing the large facility and hosting all the tournaments by itself.

Because of the size of the facility, which will have four baseball fields, one multipurpose field and a central concession building, Gregory said there would be room enough for organizations to host events simultaneously.

There’d be plenty of dates to share, Gregory said.

The Joseph Luter Jr. sports complex is being funded by a $2 million donation by former Smithfield Foods CEO Joseph Luter III, as well as a $1 million donation by his former company. Farmers Bank is donating $175,000 to the project, and Isle of Wight County is slated to contribute a total of $250,000.

SRA, meanwhile, has pledged $300,000 through the sale of Beale Park, but Kennedy has said the organization does not plan on putting the old field up for sale until the lease agreement is finalized.

The town purchased the land for the sports complex for $775,000.  {/mprestriction}