When it comes to amusement parks, one park in a small town sticks out. Located in Sandusky, OH, Cedar Point is a fun place for families (both local and outside of the area) to spend time and experience some thrills. It was established in 1870 as a beach and bathhouse but as time went on, it continued to grow. This includes the addition of rides, hotels and a water park named Castaway Bay. And today, Cedar Point remains a big part of the community. It also continues to grow in unexpected ways.
In recent years, Cedar Point established the Cedar Point Sports Force Parks and the Cedar Point Sports Center. Sports Force Parks first broke ground on April 8, 2016, and when it opened in 2017, it was reported that it generated nearly $22.3 million in total economic impact. . It was even named 2017 Champions of Economic Impact in Sports Tourism by Sports Destination Management. The Sports Center was created later on, when representatives broke ground in July 2018, and held its first event in January 2020. And more recently, the Sports Center was named the top indoor sports event venue in February 2022 by Sports Events Media Group. It did so by “exceeding expectations while adhering to strict COVID-19 pandemic guidelines and mandates.”
The Sports Force Parks is an area consisting of several synthetic turf fields where various tournaments are held. The tournaments include baseball events, softball events, lacrosse events and soccer events. There are also areas and activities such as the Sky Bounce Bungee Jump, Putt-in Bay Mini Golf, the Paddle and Climb Ropes Course, the Pros and Minors playgrounds and more. There are 12 baseball fields, including eight youth diamonds and four full-sized diamonds. There are 11 softball diamonds with batting cages. As far as lacrosse and soccer, there are eight full size lacrosse fields and eight full sized soccer fields. Tournaments are ongoing, and as the number of fields show, they are more than capable of hosting them.
Their most recent tournament (which will soon end) is the Fall Baseball Tour-A-League. This was a tournament that took place from Sept. 3 to Oct. 16. And it was a 10U-18U event. Then there are other events like the Monster Mash Double Play Baseball Tournament (from Oct.22 to Oct. 23) and a soccer event known as the Kalahari Cup (from Oct. 28 to Oct. 30). Tournaments have been a big part of Sports Force Parks success since the beginning, and they will continue to do so.
The Cedar Point Sports Center is next door to Sports Force Parks, and is an indoor facility for other sports. In other words, this is an area for sports such as basketball and volleyball. The Sports Center has 10 basketball courts, which can be converted into 20 volleyball courts. One of the courts is a championship court that can seat up to 700 people. There is also an Adventure and Arcade area featuring an arcade, a Ninja Warrior course and climbing walls. Lastly, there is an indoor walking track that is free and open to the public.
Like Sports Force Parks, the Sports Center is mostly geared towards youth sports but can host adult events if necessary. For example, a youth basketball league is set to begin on Nov. 14, and a youth volleyball league that is set to begin the following day. There is also a Climbing Club involved around learning and participating in wall climbing that will start around the same time.
The Cedar Point Sports Center and Sport Force Parks are beneficial towards the community and youth sports. The facilities serve as a place for youth to become involved in something and potentially find something they are passionate about. If sports is something a child wants to pursue, leagues such as those at the Sports Center are a way to make that happen. Or, if it is something to stay active and make new friends, that is also a possibility.
According to the Aspen Institute Project Play, youth sports are beneficial, as they help children in areas such as health, education, socializing and finance. Staying active helps build and maintain healthy bones, muscles, and joints and helps decrease the risk of health issues such as obesity. From an educational standpoint, sports (or physical) activity is typically associated with improved academic achievement, including grades and standardized test scores. Sports can also help in areas like self-esteem. Project Play also found that the biggest reasons/motivations for students playing sports included having fun and exercise. A study by the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition Science Board (PCSFN) echoed similar findings but included the perspective of parents. According to the study, 88 percent of parents believe that sports benefit their child’s physical health. And like anything, it has its pros and cons.
Heather Thomas, a Firelands employee and sports mom spoke on youth sports and if there were any benefits.
“Yes and no. I think that it’s beneficial to learn to work as a team and not focus so much on the ‘me’ aspect. However, some people get so focused on winning that that’s all they think about. It puts so much pressure on these kids that they get so upset when they don’t perform to other people’s expectations. It’s ok to get upset when you lose but there are more important things in life than just winning. I use the 5 rule with my boys. Will it matter 5 minutes, 5 days, 5 months or 5 years from now?”
Linda Renwand, a Firelands employee who volunteers as a statistician for a local school gave her take on youth sports (and if there are any benefits).
“It makes them come out and be more secure in life, even if there are negative or positive results because it makes them come out and show what they can and can’t do.”
The Cedar Point facilities have been utilized since they opened, and as youth sports continue to grow, the facilities will grow with them.