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Prospect Meadows keeps hitting home runs

November 30, 2020 | Angela Jordan

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The good folks at Prospect Meadows are like a batter who’s just had a 95 mph fastball whiz by his nose and been knocked to the ground.

They pick themselves up, brush themselves off and belt the next pitch over the fence for a home run.

It happened in 2019, when Prospect Meadows opened a little later than planned due to heavy rains and construction delays. And it happened again this year, when the COVID-19 pandemic closed the facility in March, April and May and a rare derecho caused damage in August.

Each time, they picked themselves up and socked one over the fence, thanks to all the travel teams that headed our way.

During the 2019 season, visiting teams filled 3,805 hotel rooms in Linn County, according to documented numbers. And that does not count the number of teams and visitors who stayed in hotels that were not included in the official reports filed by tournament directors.

Visiting teams used 5,349 hotel rooms this year, according to documented figures. Again, that does not count all the rooms that were filled in other facilities and were not reported.

It was probably closer to 7,000 rooms this year, based on anecdotal feedback from people who attended games at Prospect Meadows.

Jack Roeder, the president and CEO at Prospect Meadows, reports that filling 1,000 hotel rooms equates to creating a $1 million economic impact. So filling approximately 7,000 rooms provided an estimated $7 million boost to our fortunes.

“You can really look at those numbers and say this is really a big economic impact for the area,” said Roeder. “A $7 million impact is pretty phenomenal.”

Roeder is anxious to see what the numbers will be once Prospect Meadows has a full season of games from March into October. Not a four-month or five-month season like in 2019 and 2020, but eight months without major interruptions.

There probably was probably a $5 million impact in 2019 and a $7 million impact this year, what’s next?

“I think our numbers are continuing to go up,” said Roeder. “If we get a full year in 2021, we have a great chance to fill 10,000 hotel rooms and have a $10 million economic impact.”

In just two short years, Prospect Meadows has received three high profile awards. In October of 2019, they received a Community Improvement Award by the Gazette. That same month they were also awarded A Community Impact Award from the Marion Chamber of Commerce.

Then in 2020, the City of Marion collected a prestigious honor from the Iowa League of Cities, this time for being the proud location of Prospect Meadows. The Iowa League of Cities applauded Marion and Prospect Meadows for making a major impact on the community, both in terms of financial revenues and for giving young people an opportunity to play ball in a state-of-the-art complex.

A total of 435 travel teams flocked to Prospect Meadows in 2019 for tournaments that were run by Perfect Game and Game Day. That number climbed to 593 travel teams this year, putting the total at a whopping 1,028 teams for two years.

In addition, numerous baseball and softball teams in the area play their league games at Prospect Meadows. They do not stay in hotels, but they contribute to the economic impact as well.

Most of the travel teams are from neighboring states, but there also have been teams from Arkansas, California, Colorado, Indiana, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah and Canada. Illinois tops the charts with 281 travel teams that have visited here, a number that includes teams that have come more than once. Iowa is a close second with 265, followed by Wisconsin (164), Minnesota (145) and Missouri (60).

They’ve come from all over, they’ve enjoyed a great time at Prospect Meadows, and they’ve spent millions of dollars.

Now that’s a grand slam.

Angela Jordan