Softball complexes providing more than just playing fields. Facility in California offers restaurant, disco, batting cages

As softball continues to grow in popularity, and the demand for up-to-date facilities increases, multi-field complexes are springing up in many areas of the country. And of course California, with its combination of a long season and a large population, is in the forefront of the trend. A good example of softball, California style, can be found at Twin Creeks Sports Complex here in the heart of the Silicon Valley. Open only two years, the ultra-modern facility has already become a mecca for Bay Area softball enthusiasts, including the dedicated players of the state's high-tech region. All-in-all, the complex attracts some 650 to 700 teams during its peak season, which runs from April through October.

Among other attractions are batting cages, where players can get ready for games, and video equipment to tape on-field performances for post-game analysis. For the games themselves there are ten lighted diamonds, operating seven days and nights a week, 360 days a year, allowing playing time for all ages and abilities from novice to A level, which is a semi-pro classification.

Some companies in the area, such as Lockheed, have their own diamonds. But about half the teams that play here are company-sponsored, with some major corporations running full-scale programs encompassing as many as 16 teams.

Women's, senior, and coed leagues mark Twin Creeks as a family place. Nobody seems left out since a restaurant, snack bar, disco, and playgrounds provide fun and refreshment before, during, and after the games.

In the short time it has been open, Twin Creeks has shot to national prominence as a state-of-the-art softball facility. The National Collegiate Athletic Association has decided to hold its women's fast-pitch championship here May 25-29, and other significant national and regional competitions are sure to follow. Nearby San Jose State University recently hosted a national invitational tournament at the facility.

The multi-field complex is far from a West Coast phenomenon, however. Kansas boasts two of the country's largest softball centers, Miller's Woods in Overland and Fun Valley in Hutchinson; Lagoon Park in Montgomery, Ala, and the St. Louis Sports Complex are others that rival Twin Creeks in terms of size and splendor; and similar facilities can be found in Michigan, Texas, and other states.

Another much-used, though much smaller facility (two diamonds) is the new Amateur Softball Association Hall of Fame Stadium. Located in Oklahoma City on the ASA grounds, the $2 million structure has an enclosed press box, VIP lounge, and seating for more than 2,000 spectators.

The Big 8 Conference Championships were just held at this complex, the NAIA women's fast-pitch championships begin there Thursday, and several other major events are scheduled in the coming months including two Junior Olympic tournaments and a friendship series featuring teams from China and Japan.

This showcase facility is for softball only, but other complexes cannot afford to lie dormant during the off season.

Twin Creeks, for example, is made available in the fall for a flag football league, soccer, rugby, and volleyball. Softball, however, is the bread and butter of this business and brings in the bulk of the revenue. Each team is charged $550 for a 10-game regular season and the playoffs that follow. The fee covers field maintenance, umpiring costs, and new softballs.

Whether limited to softball or open to other uses, these complexes are obviously catching on all around the country.. And with the national push for fitness and recreation showing no signs of abatement, they will surely continue to do so.

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