(PIGEON FORGE, Tennessee - May 25, 2022) Ripken Baseball, the leader in youth sports events, announced they are gaining access to four additional fields in the City of Pigeon Forge. As one of the most sought-after youth sports complexes in the country, Ripken Experience™ Pigeon Forge will be able to host teams from around the country on 10 total fields, including access to the newly renovated fields at Pigeon Forge’s Wear Farm City Park.
The park’s four fields will be completely upgraded and reimagined prior to the start of the 2023 season. Similar to the original six fields at Ripken Experience™ Pigeon Forge which opened in 2016, each field at Wear Farm City Park will become a youth replica of famous Major League Baseball parks of the past and present.
Residents of Pigeon Forge will benefit from the renovations as Wear Farm City Park will continue to host tournaments throughout the year on state-of-the-art artificial turf that closely replicates real grass.
“Every year, our teams and their families take home countless fond memories of the Pigeon Forge area when they participate in The Ripken Experience™,” said Cal Ripken, Jr., who co-founded Ripken Baseball with his brother Bill Ripken. “The views are unbelievable and the feeling you have when you experience our complex is special. The demand to play here is through the roof. This is an exciting opportunity to expand and welcome even more baseball families to Pigeon Forge.”
Wear Farm City Park’s four fields will be transformed into youth replicas of the following big league stadiums: St. Louis’ Busch Stadium, Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers Stadium, Philadelphia’s Veterans Stadium, and Cincinnati’s Riverfront Stadium. The $3 million renovation project will begin this summer.
“Pigeon Forge’s partnership with Ripken Baseball is a successful one, as demonstrated by the annual increase in demand for the ball fields and the direct impact on our city’s tourism industry due to the many families who visit,” said Pigeon Forge City Manager Earlene Teaster. “The upgrades to Wear Farm City Park are a win-win for The Ripken Experience™ and our Pigeon Forge residents as these fields bring vast improvements for everyone to enjoy.”
Pigeon Forge residents and local youth teams will enjoy the renovations immediately following completion. The Ripken Experience™ Pigeon Forge’s access to Wear Farm City Park applies primarily to daytime hours during the summer season, allowing the four baseball fields to remain available for Pigeon Forge residents during evenings, weekends, and most Fridays. The addition of artificial turf provides longer days during the winter months (November through early March), earlier year-round start times, and quicker turnaround during the event of rain. Wear Farm City Park is open daily from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. The park, which also has soccer and youth football facilities, will continue to host youth baseball leagues.
The Ripken Experience™ Pigeon Forge hosts more than 1,000 teams annually from over 30 states, traveling from as far away as California, Alaska, and overseas. Players’ families, many of whom are first-time visitors to Pigeon Forge, have a significant impact on the Pigeon Forge economy. A 2018 economic impact study attributed $33.8 million in visitor spending to The Ripken Experience™ Pigeon Forge during the facility’s nine-month season that year.
The appeal of Pigeon Forge as a family vacation destination was a major reason the city built the $22.5 million complex and contracted with Ripken Baseball to operate it. During seven seasons of operations, the facility has solidified Pigeon Forge as a major sports tourism destination. In addition, research indicates that 99 percent of those who visit the facility reside outside of Sevier County.
Tournament participants, coaches, and their families contribute to the local economy through overnight lodging stays, ticket purchases to area attractions, restaurant dining, and other purchases.
Pigeon Forge is located in Sevier County just six miles from the entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Since opening its doors in March 2016, more than 5,000 youth baseball teams and 250 high school softball teams have taken to the six fields at The Ripken Experience Pigeon Forge. In total, more than 75,000 players and coaches have traveled to play ball on fields that offer unobstructed views of the Great Smoky Mountains, with an additional 1,000 teams expected to travel to the complex for competition in 2022.
The Ripken Experience™ Pigeon Forge is located on a ridge above Pigeon Forge. Each field borrows its design inspiration from current and former ballparks highlighting the professional player progression from the Minor to Major Leagues, including Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore.
The others are Calfee Park in Pulaski, Va., the oldest park in the Appalachian League; Fluor Field in Greenville, S.C., known as “Little Fenway”; Engel Stadium in Chattanooga, Tenn., a filming location for the “42” movie about Jackie Robinson; BB&T Ballpark in Winston-Salem, N.C.; and Isotopes Park in Albuquerque, N.M.
The Ripken Experience™ Pigeon Forge hosts tournaments nine months out of the year and offers year-round branded events in its 14,000-square-foot clubhouse. Tournaments are free to spectators, and parking is free at the complex.
Visitor information about Pigeon Forge is available online at MyPigeonForge.com and toll-free at 800-251-9100. To learn more about Ripken Baseball and for The Ripken Experience™ Pigeon Forge, visit RipkenBaseball.com.
Cal Ripken, Jr. headshot and The Ripken Experience Pigeon Forge facility images are available here. Photo credit: The Ripken Experience Pigeon Forge
About Ripken Baseball
Ripken Baseball brings teammates, coaches, and families together through its Big-League Experiences, while teaching the values of the game, and how to play it the right way – the Ripken Way. Recently expanding the best experience in youth sports to satellite locations through Ripken Select Tournaments, 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), and The Ripken Experience™ Pigeon Forge (Tennessee).
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Trish McGee for the Pigeon Forge Dept. of Tourism
615-327-1189 ext. 327
Eric Nemeth for Ripken Baseball