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Sponsors still needed at complex

Litter causes controversy; Farris King provides solution by Tia Lyons | April 14, 2022 at 12:00 a.m.
The entrance of the El Dorado-Union County Recreation Complex is seen in this News-Times file photo.

Sponsorship opportunities are still available for businesses who are looking to advertise in one of the busiest facilities in Union County.

The El Dorado-Union County Recreation Complex reportedly pulls in more than 125,000 people each year for youth and adult baseball/softball games and tournaments.

Activity is expected to pick up with new soccer fields that are set to open within a few weeks and plans for further expansion that could entail a new baseball field to accommodate older teens and adults.

The new field would help serve the SouthArk Stars baseball and softball teams, who, in an agreement with the complex, began playing and practicing at the facility after launching the athletic programs last year.

The college uses fields 4 (formally known as the Schoolboy Rowe field) and 8 for baseball and softball, respectively.

There are six other baseball/softball fields at the complex.

Members of the El Dorado-Union County Recreation Complex Commission have said that with a regulation field for older teens and adult, the complex could poise itself as a host site for junior college tournaments in the future.

With those possibilities in mind and because the coronavirus (COVID-19) considerably slowed activity at the complex in 2020, the commission is working with its advertising agency to boost sponsorships.

Last month, Don Hale, president and owner of the Diamond Agency, told commissioners that the agency is striving to renew sponsorships and create new ones with a goal of securing 20 sponsorships by June.

Hale said the ad agency began sending out renewal notices to existing sponsors in mid-March and since then, all but one of the sponsors have renewed agreements.

A couple of new sponsors have been added and there is room for a few more, Hale said, adding that sponsorship opportunities will be available throughout the year.

"Hopefully, by this time next month, we'll have a complete accounting of the support we have for the sponsorship program," he said.

Many of the existing signs and banners were removed from fences surrounding the ball fields in late 2019 when the first phase of a two-part renovation and expansion plan began at the complex.

The facility shut down to make way for construction and just as the 2020 season was opening up, the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak forced the closure of the complex between March and late July of 2020.

Because activity at the facility decreased considerably in 2020, a grace period was extended to advertisers and sponsors in 2021.

Hale previously explained that advertisers did not fully benefit from sponsorships that were purchased in 2020 and the Diamond Agency is hoping that advertising businesses will pick back up at the complex this year.

Banners are available at four sponsorship levels, including:

• $1,800, Grand Slam (banners on six fields).

• $1,000, Triple (banners on three fields).

• $800, Double (banners on two fields).

• $450, Single (banner on one field).

The cost of the annual sponsorships includes the banners, artwork and production.

Hale said the Diamond Agency will install the banners and make sure they are highly visible, noting the agency has been tracking field use and activity.

Additionally, banners will be printed on high-quality, vinyl mesh material that is suited for outdoor use and will be visible underneath field lighting.

For more information or to enroll in the sponsorship program, call the Diamond Agency at 870-862-1010 or send an email to [email protected]

Mowing and litter

During a regular meeting April 8, the Complex Commission also hashed out an issue with a local mowing/landscaping business that is contracted with the city of El Dorado to service the complex.

Perry Pope, owner of Flower Pot Lawn Care and Landscaping, said he wanted to clarify his point of contact and accountability.

"Is it Robert Edmonds (El Dorado director of public works) or is it the (El Dorado City Council), who approved the bid, or is it this group?" Pope asked, referring to the Boys and Girls Club of El Dorado, who manages and operates the complex, per a contract with the city.

Commissioner and city council Member Avo Vartenian said the commission hired Flower Pot to "get out there and do a job for the city."

Pope said the contract and job description are self-explanatory and he reiterated his question regarding who he is accountable to and who he should call if a problem arises.

"Instead of five calls, I'd like to have one point of contact and I think it should be Robert Edmonds," Pope said.

Council Member Paul Choate noted that Edmonds is responsible for all of the city's physical plants and properties.

"There is a chain of command with the city, whether you believe it or not," Choate said, drawing a laugh from the crowd.

Greg Harrison, chairman of the commission and a member of the Union County Quorum Court, said the contract calls for Flower Pot to mow every 10 days at the complex, weather permitting.

Edmond said the unit bid price also allows flexibility for such issues as inclement weather or if a tournament is scheduled before the next grass-cutting and "you want to straighten things up out there."

Vartenian questioned if Edmonds needed to micro-manage the mowing schedule and pointed out that a bid was let for the service because the BGCE needed assistance with mowing the complex grounds.

"Who does he call if there's a problem outside of his job description and grass-cutting?" Vartenian asked.

Pope said Flower Pot has recently experienced issues with litter scattered about the complex grounds.

"On April 1, I had a weed eater and I had four men out there picking up trash for three hours. I did not charge for that because it wasn't really growing at the time, but now it is, so who's responsible for that?" Pope asked.

He said crews routinely have to clear some litter, but the amount of litter was excessive on April 1.

Harrison said storms blow over trash cans at the facility and animals get into the cans and strew trash.

"There's going to be trash out there because of all the activity that goes on out there," Harrison said.

With the help of fellow quorum court Member Johnny Burson, Harrison said the garbage collection schedule at the complex has increased to once every two weeks, up from once per month.

"Sounds like the trash needs to be picked up more than every two weeks," said Phillip Lansdell, an ex-officio member of the complex commission.

Anthony Farris King, athletic director of the Boys and Girls Club of El Dorado, asked what he needed to do to help rectify the situation.

"There's no need to make a mountain out of a molehill," he said.

Commissioners agreed that Pope and Farris King could coordinate their schedules so that the grounds are cleared of litter when Flower Pot arrives at the complex to mow.

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