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Upgrades to Avon’s recreation complex could spur tourism

Lorain County commissioners really should consider giving the city of Avon $1 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds for proposed facility upgrades to the city’s recreation complex.

In an Oct. 12 presentation to the commissioners, the city announced it also would contribute $1 million to what would mount to a $2.9 million improvement project.

The complex features the 5,000-seat Mercy Health Stadium, home to the Lake Erie Crushers baseball club of the Frontier League, the French Creek YMCA as well as T3 Performance, a sports training complex.

Work already has started at the stadium with crews installing a new synthetic field at the baseball stadium at a cost of $650,000 with a November completion.

The main improvements include a $500,000 video scoreboard and the addition of a $750,000 synthetic turf field that could be used for a variety of athletic programming.

The proposed project would be a collaborative effort of Avon, the French Creek YMCA, the Crushers and the county.

The county’s share would help pay in part for a new video scoreboard at the stadium; informational marquee signage along Interstate 90 and the southwest corner of the intersection of Recreation Lane and state Route 611; LED stadium lighting; and improved lighting in the stadium parking lot.

Avon Mayor Bryan K. Jensen, Crushers co-owner Tom Kramig and French Creek YMCA Executive Director Eric Stinehelfer spoke to the commissioners during the presentation in the meeting seeking support.

The YMCA is planning to apply for a $250,000 grant from the NFL Foundation Grassroots program this spring to help pay for a portion of the synthetic field.

The YMCA then would run an NFL-affiliated flag league at the location, which could include other YMCA branches from the YMCA of Greater Cleveland of which French Creek is a member

What’s attractive here is the YMCA would use the synthetic field year-round for youth programming, that would include a Y-run flag football league.

The stadium opened in 2009, and the YMCA in 2010, and they have had a lot of use.

Surprisingly, Mercy Health Stadium is the only ballpark in the Frontier League without a video scoreboard.

Kramig makes a good point that a new video scoreboard would open up the stadium for other types of events.

With a large video scoreboard, the facility can be used for movie nights and watch parties.

Avon officials believe the complex improvements can spur tourism with youth flag football, which will bring families to Avon to watch their children play.

Mercy Health Stadium already has hosted youth summer baseball tournaments, and has hosted the Mid American Conference Baseball Tournament. Even when the Crushers are out of town, events take place at the ballpark.

Commissioner Matt Lundy liked the idea Avon presented and he thinks it’s a great idea to have movie nights and watch parties.

The watch parties could attract fans for the Cleveland sports franchises such as the Cavaliers, Browns and Guardians when the teams make the playoffs, as long as they do not infringe on broadcast rights.

Lundy even suggested that if Avon decided to have big shows or concerts at the stadium, the big screen would be a benefit because the attendees could see what’s happening on stage.

The purpose of the upgrades is to bring more people to Avon and Lorain County.

And if the upgrades will spur the local tourism industry, the commissioners really should consider giving Avon the funds.

The Lorain County Fair and Rockin’ on the River summer weekly concert series in downtown Lorain bring thousands of people to Lorain County.

Commissioner Dave Moore brought up a good point when he asked who would receive the money from the advertising on the informational marquee signs and scoreboard.

Jensen responded that money would go to the owner of the stadium, which is Avon, but the county would be given the use of the signs to promote county activities.

Avon also owns the YMCA building.

While the city will benefit from the upgrades, so will area families that can go to a Crushers game, or watch their youngsters take part in a flag football league game run by the local YMCA.

And Lundy highlighted that the federal government denoted that American Rescue Plan Act funds can be used to jumpstart or rejuvenate tourism, which this project could do.

The commissioners told Jensen they should have a decision in the next couple of weeks on whether to give the city the $1 million for the upgrades to the recreation complex.

A wise investment for Avon could spur more tourism for Lorain County.

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Travis Burnett

Travis Burnett

A pioneer in the flag football community, Travis helped co-found the Flag Football World Championship Tour, FlagSpin and USA Flag. Featuring 15+ years of content creation for the sport of flag football, creating and managing the largest flag football tournaments on the planet, coaching experience at the youth and adult level as well as an active player with National and World Championship level experience.

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