SportsEvents Magazine

JAN 2017

SportsEvents is edited for those who plan tournaments or other sports events.

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January 2017 24 SPECIAL FEATURE: Awards & Recognition Issue What do you do when baseball has been a major part of your life from child- hood through adulthood? For Bryan Baar, the answer was simple: run a baseball complex. "I played in college at Western Michigan University," said Baar, complex manager for the Art Van Sports Complex in Grand Rapids, MI. "I also ran a training facility. I ran a travel program out of my facility. And I have boys who played and traveled across the country, so I have some good ideas to bring to the table." After his college career, Baar was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1989 and played four years in the organi- zation, moving from Class A to AAA before hanging up his cleats. In 1995, he opened Elite Baseball and Softball Training in Grand Rapids, and trained more than 1,000 aspiring players from ages 5 to 22 each year. When the idea of a baseball and softball complex was spawned in 2008, Baar assisted with the planning for the program. In 2014, he became the facility manager. "It started out the Sports Commission had a vision to have a tournament-ready complex to bring in tournaments to Western Michigan," Baar said. "We have eight fields. We have a championship field that is the pinnacle of the facility. It has covered seating for 1,000. It's a beautiful field. We have two quads just outside of that. We also have a Miracle field." The complex hosted 18 weekend events in 2016 and five smaller one-day events scattered throughout August, September and October, including the Game Day USA Regional World Series that comprised 95 teams. Baar has 22 events scheduled for 2017. Baar focuses on keeping the fields in top condition. "It's beautiful and it's well maintained," he said of the complex. "We have a great grounds crew that does a tremendous job of maintaining the facility and maintaining the high level of excellence. Western Michigan is a great draw. When teams come to play, there is a lot of things for them to do." Since opening the complex, Baar has booked and managed 35 tournaments that have brought in 1,250 teams, 15,000 partici- pants, 40,000- plus spectators and 14,000 booked hotel room nights. He hopes to increase the number of self-promoted events. "We hosted a couple of small events the first two years, nothing that's re- curring," Baar said. "The goal eventually is to hold two to four of our own events through the seasons." His vast experience, including traveling with his sons, gives him insight into keeping visitors happy. "I coached my sons, 10u through 18u, so I have a good idea what you need to have a great complex," Baar said. "The two biggest things are ease of getting in and out, and the quality of the fields. We built top-notch fields and we have the proper staff and equipment to keep everything top notch throughout the whole event. That's the biggest thing, to keep the play-ability of the fields in top quality throughout a tournament." n Catulatis! 2017 Readers' Choice Award Winners cont. IOWA Des Moines Area Sports Commission GO Cedar Rapids KANSAS Visit Overland Park Visit Wichita KENTUCKY Bowling Green Area CVB Elizabethtown Tourism & Convention Bureau Louisville CVB LOUISIANA Visit Baton Rouge Hammond Area Recreation Jefferson CVB Tangipahoa Parrish CVB MARYLAND Annapolis & Anne Arundel County Conference & Visitors Bureau See Ad On Page 25 Visit Montgomery continued on page 26 Bryan Baar Complex Manager Art Van Sports Complex

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