The Tucson Invitational Games baseball tournament brought 30 college teams to Kino Sports Complex in March.
Kino Baseball League teams played 566 games at Kino Sports Complex fields between Sept. 1, 2011, and July 30, 2012.
“The complex and fields this past summer were in outstanding condition and the improvements made by the county have the facility very attractive,” Bill Leith of the Kino Baseball League said in the league’s 2012 year-end report. “The administrative staff and field crews at the complex are very supportive and have provided the Kino Baseball League great service and attention since the league started in June 2010.”
Chris Bartos, director of the Pima County Stadium District, hopes other local sports teams will take advantage of all that Kino Sports Complex has to offer.
“Kino Sports Complex has great fields and facilities for amateur baseball, soccer and other sports,” Bartos said. “We’re eager to work with anyone who wants to use it for sports, but we can also handle concerts, trade shows and community events.”
Kino Baseball League is a nonprofit organization – separate from Kino Sports Complex – that organizes local competitive amateur baseball leagues and tournaments.
“Since the league’s first season in June 2010, the Kino Baseball League has played a total of 1, 406 games, of which 88 percent (1,246) have been played at the Kino Sports Complex,” Leith said.
Its summer leagues included the Babe Ruth League with 13 teams, ages 13 through 15; the High School League with 22 teams, ages 14 through 18; and the Sun Belt College League, with six teams, ages 19 through 25.
The summer league teams played 274 games on Kino Sports Complex’s South Fields. The complex has seven fields south of Ajo Way, of which four are lighted.
Attendance at the summer league games – from May 31 to July 16 – totaled 8,653 people, not including players or coaches.
“If there was no league in place like Kino Baseball, players and parents would be traveling to Phoenix on a much more regular basis and spending their money at these venues,” Leith said. “With Kino Baseball, the money stays locally.
“The Kino Sports Complex may not have been that ‘attractive’ to professional baseball, but for amateur baseball the location is perfect. … Kino Baseball League has been able to get teams from Phoenix and out of state to come to Tucson because of the easy access to the facility” via Interstate 10, Leith said.
Jim Tiggas, founder of the annual Tucson Invitation Games collegiate tournament, expects even more college teams to participate in 2013.
“So far, 35 baseball teams have registered for the 2013 contest,” Tiggas said. “Traditionally August and September mark the heaviest registration activity before registration cutoff in November so comparatively speaking I see no reason why the registration can’t double.”
Kino Baseball League has grown and will continue to grow, Leith said. It established a Freshman League in 2012 to be a “conduit” for area high school baseball programs that may lose their freshman program due to budget cuts.
“This past spring there were 11 teams that participated,” Leith said. “These games were played on Saturdays during the high school season (March-April-May) at the Kino Sports Complex. … If this league was not in existence, these players would not have had a place to play.”
Kino Baseball League’s Fall Season for various age divisions will begin in September, and Leith expects the teams to play at Kino Sports Complex on the weekends from Oct. 13 through Oct. 28.
“Amateur baseball is alive and well in Tucson and Pima County,” Leith said, “and the potential for further growth is very much a reality.”
Kino Sports Complex is the largest professional sports and entertainment venue of its kind in Pima County. It includes the 11,000-seat Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium, seven baseball fields (four with lights), lighted softball fields, and a regulation Soccer Stadium (lighted) available for soccer, field hockey, rugby, and lacrosse. With its panoramic view of the Santa Catalina Mountains, it is a natural fit for youth, high school and collegiate sports. Plus, it makes a great setting for social gatherings, concerts, and community events. To learn more, or to schedule an event, go to www.kinosportscomplex.com or call (520)546-KINO (5466).