Courtesy of Joey Markakis
Monday, October 17, 2011 | 2 a.m
Map of Cheyenne Sports Complex
3200 E. Cheyenne Ave., North Las Vegas
In tough economic times, North Las Vegas has faced tough budget cuts, leaving some city services behind.
One such service, the Cheyenne Sports Complex at 3500 East Cheyenne Avenue, has left hundreds of softball players without a field to compete on.
Worn wiring and dim lighting forced the city to turn off the lights at one of its oldest parks in the spring of 2009 – and the city and the players have lost ground ever since.
Joey Markakis, national director of slow-pitch softball for the American Fastpitch Association, said the park hosts two dozen tournaments a year, serving nearly 100 foreign teams a year, as well as dozens of local teams.
“It all stopped abruptly, it just stopped,” Markakis said. “No matter where you live, you played in the championship in North Las Vegas. Once that stopped we had nowhere to go.
The wiring in the park had gone bad and the field lights were on and off. The shutdown, which Markakis initially viewed as temporary, turned into two years without playing on the pitch.
“Frustration is not the word – frustration has turned into anger,” Markakis said. “It’s not just me, they’re all the same players. You had this park which was one of the best facilities in town. They put together a great fun program.
The park therefore remained inactive. Without lighting, players started using pitches in Las Vegas and Henderson, but it wasn’t the same. It was until now.
After two years in the dark, North Las Vegas plans to turn on the lights on the field. City council voted in September to approve an offer of $ 850,000 to supply and install sports lighting and other electrical upgrades.
City recreation coordinator Jeff Smith said the news was a relief to him and the various softball associations the park is home to.
“We don’t get any income when the lights are out,” said Smith, who has been playing the field since he was in sixth grade. “We lose about $ 75,000 (per year) just on softball teams. It was difficult because we use that income to compensate for children’s programs like youth basketball. “
Smith said the field serves about 8,000 players per month. A typical weekend tournament costs teams $ 800. Add the light charge and the price can go up to $ 1,000. League fees run a team of $ 375.
He said the park has been part of the softball community for over two decades and the loss to the community outweighs the financial loss.
“(The park) is one of the oldest in the valley and had a loyal following. It upset a lot of people, ”Smith said. “I get a lot of phone calls to find out when we’re going to reopen this place.”
But the city hopes to get the softball games back on track.
City Councilor Anita Wood said she hopes the city can complete the upgrades as quickly as possible so the citizens of North Las Vegas can start playing again.
Smith said work is scheduled to begin in November and the park is expected to open next spring.
But Markakis said he was counting on the city to keep his word and reopen the pitch soon. Although he was concerned he would have to move his operation out of state if he waited much longer, he says once the complex is up and running it will do wonders for the city.
“People will be back if it’s open,” Markakis said. “There will be a waiting list.
3200 E. Cheyenne Ave. North Las Vegas,