A New Sports Complex Plays in Peoria

by Dan Cunningham
Louisville Slugger Sports Complex

A new partnership aims to build the “best baseball/softball experience” in the country.

To quote Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis, “This is a big deal!” Louisville Slugger, the number one name in diamond sports and a leader in baseball and softball for 130 years, is partnering with the new state-of-the-art sports complex being built in Peoria beginning this spring. The facility will consist of 10 outdoor, all-synthetic turf youth baseball and softball fields, plus a 125,000-square-foot dome that will offer year-round play. It will be called the Louisville Slugger Sports Complex—a mecca that will attract a quarter of a million visitors a year.

“Our company has a long history of leaving its mark on baseball and softball,” said Louisville Slugger Vice President of Global Marketing Kyle Schlegel at the December 18th press conference at the Peoria Civic Center announcing the partnership. “Louisville Slugger is honored to join with the Peoria community in what will be one of the very best facilities of its kind in the country. This is not hyperbole. Peoria and the Louisville Slugger Sports Complex will become the number one destination for youth softball and baseball in the Midwest and, for many, the best in the nation.”

The partnership provides Louisville Slugger with naming rights, use of the facility for special marketing events, and the opportunity to have its product line marketed to a young demographic that will build brand loyalty. In return, the complex gains instant worldwide recognition and the ability to tap into some of the finest resources in the industry. The partnership is a “home run” for everyone—especially the thousands of young people who will venture to central Illinois for one of the best diamond experiences in the nation.

As we build the “best baseball/softball experience” in the country, many things will separate the Louisville Slugger Sports Complex from other similar complexes. We will be providing the best fields to play on, including Major League-style dugouts, bullpens, lights, scoreboards and public address systems. Many participants will be entered into the Louisville Slugger Youth Hall of Fame and have their names enshrined on a specially-designated website where each individual can go to show friends and family.

The experience we offer will be highlighted by a fully interactive website for registrations and reservations. The “Louisville Slugger Experience Interactive App” will allow everyone with a smartphone, iPad or other type of electronic tablet to have “the experience at their fingertips.” Schedules, places to eat and shop, the weather, local maps, links to our website and merchandising store, and whatever else we feel will make the experience more enjoyable will be at everyone’s fingertips. Personalized bats and other specialty items will create lasting memories.

The finest “opening ceremonies” in the industry will kick off the experience for players and their families. The dome will become a state-of-the-art projection screen, providing spectacular entertainment for all in attendance. Spectators will witness a brilliant laser light show on the roof of the dome with a corresponding soundtrack. We will then project a professionally-produced souvenir DVD on the flat surface of the dome that will highlight the experience participants will have, as well as other entertaining segments. Our partners at the complex will have the opportunity to provide any information they want, and best of all, every participant will be given a copy of the DVD to take home with them.

The old vaudeville saying “Will it play in Peoria?” will get new life, as the Peoria area will enjoy the sports experience as much as the participants, who will come from all over the country to take part in activities. Visitors to the complex will use close to 70,000 hotel rooms a year and eat meals too numerous to count. Retailers will smile as more than a quarter of a million people will be driving our roads each year, looking for that special item to take home with them. And they will all want to come back because of the tremendous experience they enjoyed at the Louisville Slugger Sports Complex—and the hospitality for which central Illinois is famous.

“To say we are excited would be an enormous understatement,” Schlegel said. “We are truly ecstatic over this partnership and what it can do to promote youth baseball and softball, the games we love. This is the first such partnership for Louisville Slugger, speaking volumes about our confidence in the development and future of the complex under the complex’s leadership. This is an amazing opportunity for Louisville Slugger to connect with young players and their families as we start our next 130 years.” iBi

Dan Cunningham is manager of the new Louisville Slugger Sports Complex.

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