How It All Began…

As with many American families, Ronald Nametko’s family played baseball.  Both Nametko and his wife worked their way through the youth baseball system with their two sons, cheering their accomplishments and coaching/managing their teams.  In April of 1999, Nametko founded Manchester Magic Baseball (NJ) and began traveling with MMB teams to competitions.

The entire family quickly learned the complexities of travel sport programs.  Simply registering and appearing to play in games wasn’t enough – a safe place to stay, good places to eat, and activities to keep 15 boys, five coaches and their fans/families busy in down time had to be planned.  Fields were not always in good condition and often there was a significant amount of travel between game sites.  Teams from the Northeast were often competitive, but teams for the South (Florida, Georgia) and California consistently played at a higher level.

How could MMB teams control their practice facilities in the often uncooperative Northeastern weather so that they could be more competitive with the teams from the South and West?  As Nametko talked with other coaches and players, the consensus was that the Northeast has and will continue to explode with great talent in many sports including baseball, but baseball players simply needed ot get out on the field more often.

It was in 2000 that the conclusion was reached ot build a sports complex as the year-round home and training facilities for Manchester Magic Baseball.  Nametko’s research showed that most baseball fields were outside and were used primarily from March through October.  One overwhelming limitation of field use was the field conditions in the Northeast because even if the weather cleared, often fields were still unplayable for days due to poor soil conditions or inadequate drainage.

For three days in 2001 while Manchester Baseball played at Nationals in Sarasota, Fla., it rained – for some of the time it rained so hard that the outfielders were invisible!  But Nametko realized after each rainstorm that there wasn’t a single puddle on the infield surface of those fields – they had been designed and built to limit the effects of the rainy Florida weather.  That Fall he personally decided to take on the challenge of planning a baseball facility designed so that children would be able to have playable fields in the New Jersey weather.

The First Pitch

As the word spread that Nametko was working on the Magic Sports project for baseball his phone started to ring.  Coaches who were involved in other travel sports encountering the same situation with weather/facility limitations called to sympathize, and they all agreed that the quality of the Southern and some Western teams in their sports was better in large part because players were able to play year round.

Nametko took their comments to heart and studied every sports facility he could find, and every individual he could find who was running a sports program throughout the United States.  He studied indoor and outdoor complexes and existing business models, whether they were applicable to single sport operations or multi-sport facilities.

One of the most successful operations that Nametko found then and still ranks as one of the best is Cooperstown Dreams Park located in the woods in upstate New York.  Cooperstown Dreams Park has successfully run week-long baseball tournaments for 12-and-under boys during 11 weeks each Summer since June of 1996.  The tournaments have been sold out since 2000 with a waiting list each year for teams who hope to still be able to come to play.

Nametko studied the Cooperstown program for three years and spent five week at the Dream Park with his team.  He stayed at the site, and he talked with employees, players and umpires.  He also talked with Lou Presutti, owner of Cooperstown Dreams Park.

Dreams Park hosted 880 teams in 2004.  Those teams totaled about 16,000 players and coaches in 11 weeks at a fee of $525.00 per person.  More than 150,000 spectators came to Cooperstown to support their teams.  Gross sales for that 11-week tournament season are expected to exceed $15 million in 2004.  In 2005, Cooperstown added 20 teams per week bringing the total to 100 and are expected to have generated nearly $17 million in sales.

The Hit

The curve ball in the Cooperstown model is that Cooperstown targets only 12-and-under boys.  Many of the teams travel from long distances and need complex arrangement to reach the fairly isolated Cooperstown site.  Yet, the tournament continues to be sold out years in advance.

Nametko immediately saw the potential in building upon the Cooperstown model.  Why not expand tournaments … for more age groups and include girls?  Why not reach out to the coaches and players of sports other than baseball and provide a viable year-round accessible, regional location for them as well?  And so the concept of Magic Sports Complex & Resort was born.

The Home Run

Centrally located in New Jersey and easily accessible by two international airports with readily available transportation by buys or auto, the 120-acre Magic Sports site also is near the family-oriented Jersey Shore and just 30 miles from Atlantic City.  In its first 12-week Summer season, Magic Sports will offer baseball tournaments starting at 10-and-under through the 16-and-under age brackets.  Magic Sports will also be the first complex that will offer one week to girls only.  Additional sport tournaments are both boys and girls and will be offered in a variety of sports at several state-of-the-art Magic Sports venues.

Magic Sports will provide secured, on-site accommodations in its first season with an initial capacity of 1,000 campers (as many as 40 teams).  Additional accommodations will include an on-site hotel for family members, fans and others who want to share the Magic Sports experience with their children.  Amenities such as a swimming pool, game room, family room, laundry, dining, souvenir shop, and concession stands will be built for athletes and their families.  Magic Sports’ on-site dining hall initially will be able to feed 1,000 coaches and athletes.

To fill that “down time” between games, the Magic Sports Complex & Resort will have courts for basketball, volleyball, tennis, horseshoes and other kinds of games.  In the first season Magic Sports will have eight fields with a high quality artificial clay-clay mixture and an advanced drainage system allowing all eight fields to be available in every type of weather and for a variety of activities.

Based upon the proven success of the Cooperstown Dreams Park model, Nametko is confident that Magic Sports’ plan to extend the tournament program and to provide state-of-the-art facilities in an easily accessible location will be a sure Home Run for all.  The games are about to begin in New Jersey – Let’s “PLAY BALL!”