$22.5 million facility to open in spring 2016 as tournament destination for elite nine- and 10-year old baseball
PIGEON FORGE (press release)—Ripken Baseball and the City of Pigeon Forge hosted a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday at the site of the Ripken Experience Pigeon Forge youth baseball complex. The $22.5 million facility will be a brand new tournament destination for elite nine and 10-year-old baseball players.
“We are thrilled to officially break ground on the new Ripken Experience complex,” said Cal Ripken, Jr. “The City of Pigeon Forge is an excellent location for our new facility and soon this ground will be home to thousands of young ballplayers running, playing and competing. We all look forward to that day.”
The Ripken Experience Pigeon Forge will look out onto the Great Smoky Mountains and feature a two-level clubhouse with more than 14,000 sq. ft., a 2,749 sq. ft. concession/restroom building with an adjacent pavilion as well as six lighted synthetic turf fields. Each field borrows its design from well-known professional ballparks, including Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Isotopes Stadium (Albuquerque, N.M.) and BB&T Ballpark (Charlotte, N.C.). Opening Day at the Ripken Experience Pigeon Forge is planned for spring 2016. The city signed a 10-year contract with Ripken Baseball to market and manage the complex which will host world-class youth baseball tournaments nine months of the year and offer year-round branded programming.
“Youth sports are an almost $9 billion industry in the U.S. and the Ripken Experience Pigeon Forge will steer some of that business to us. For several years, we have hosted summertime softball tournaments at our city park and have seen the impact of sports. However, this investment by the city means we’re taking youth sports to a totally new level. Teaming up with Cal and Bill Ripken puts us on the map immediately,” said Pigeon Forge Mayor David Wear.
The Pigeon Forge location will become Ripken Baseball’s third Ripken Experience complex. The Ripken Experience Aberdeen powered by Under Armour is located in Ripken’s hometown in Maryland and is host to the 12-year-old Cal Ripken World Series, which brings 10 teams from around the world together to compete for a World Championship title each summer. A popular beach vacation destination, The Ripken Experience Myrtle Beach features elite baseball and softball competition for 13 to 18-year-olds and is used as a spring training facility for college and high school teams.