Company’s Sixth Complex Expands Ripken Beyond Diamond Sports for the First Time – Adds Soccer and Lacrosse
(CLEVELAND – May 9, 2023) – Ripken Baseball®, the leader in youth sports events and facilities, has acquired Sports Force Parks at Cedar Point Sports Center in Sandusky, Ohio, located between Cleveland and Toledo. Known for creating lifelong family experiences, Ripken Baseball will operate next to one of the world's most acclaimed amusement parks Cedar Point.
Ripken Baseball takes over the operation of Sports Force Parks beginning with the 2023 season, which is underway with over 50 tournaments on its schedule. The acquisition raises Ripken Baseball’s total number of youth sports complexes to six nationwide.
The announcement confirms Ripken Baseball has expanded into sports beyond baseball and softball for the first time. Sports Force Parks at Cedar Point Sports Center includes multi-purpose fields with the capacity of 11 baseball/softball synthetic turf diamonds or eight full-size soccer fields that are convertible to create up to 21 youth soccer fields, in addition to one ADA-accessible field for adaptive sports. The state-of-the-art playing surfaces allow the complex to host baseball, softball, soccer, lacrosse, and youth football tournaments.
“Adding Sports Force Parks to the Ripken Baseball family is significant on many levels,” said Michael Kenney, CEO of Ripken Baseball. “We now have an opportunity to bring a Big League experience to not only baseball and softball, but also soccer, lacrosse, and even football. The proximity of the complex is ideal for families looking for a complete entertainment experience with a world-class amusement park down the road at Cedar Point.”
As part of the acquisition of Sports Force Parks, Ripken Baseball also assumes control of youth baseball tournament operator 17 Tournaments, and travel planner Oakwood Lodging Group. Named after the size of home plate, 17 Tournaments brings youth baseball tournaments to Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, and Ohio. Oakwood Lodging Group creates a seamless experience for youth teams traveling outside their home market to book hotels, flights, and other travel needs efficiently.
“When my late friend, co-founder, and the vision behind Sports Force Parks, Brian Storm, first dreamed of entering the youth sports business, he endeavored to build parks where sports, family, and fun could bring people together,” said Mark Stalnaker, President of Sports Fields, Inc. “The model was built on the strong foundation that Ripken had already established for baseball but also added a variety of other sports such as soccer, softball, and lacrosse. Brian would be thrilled to see the growth opportunities that the industry leader Ripken Baseball can offer to Sports Force Parks employees as they are the backbone of the brand and have made the companies so successful.”
Sports Fields, Inc. designed, built, and managed Sports Force Parks at Cedar Point Sports Center, and also created Oakwood Lodging, and 17 Tournaments. Sports Fields, Inc. is one of the nation’s premier sports construction companies with a resume that includes designing and constructing The Ripken Experience® Pigeon Forge, several fields at Ripken Myrtle Beach and Aberdeen, and over 100 fields for the Cal Ripken, Sr Foundation.
In January 2023, Ripken Baseball announced Josh Harris and David Blitzer, via their respective family offices, completed a strategic investment in Ripken Baseball and Cooperstown All Star Village. Blitzer is a part-owner of the Cleveland Guardians, who are committed to supporting community initiatives with Ripken Baseball and Cooperstown All Star Village.
“We welcome Ripken Baseball to the Northeast Ohio region,” said Cleveland Guardians VP of Communications and Community Impact Curtis Danburg. “We look forward to partnering with the Ripken Baseball family to create unique Major League level experiences for their athletes visiting their complex in Sandusky and Progressive Field.”
About Ripken Baseball
Ripken Baseball brings teammates, coaches, and families together through its Big League Experiences while teaching children how to play sports the right way – the Ripken Way. Ripken Baseball continues to innovate the game through tournaments, camps, clinics, and spring training at their state-of-the-art baseball and softball facilities – The Ripken Experience® Aberdeen (Maryland), The Ripken Experience® Myrtle Beach (South Carolina), The Ripken Experience® Pigeon Forge (Tennessee), The Ripken Experience® Elizabethtown (Kentucky), Sports Force Parks at Cedar Point Sports Center (Ohio), and Cooperstown All Star Village (New York). Ripken Baseball also brings its youth sports experience to satellite locations through Ripken Select Tournaments. Learn more at ripkenbaseball.com.