Just off I-75 near the town of Emerson, Georgia lies a state of the art sports facility, complete with dozens of baseball/softball fields, soccer fields and even a beach volleyball venue. There is also a huge gymnasium for basketball and indoor volleyball events, which last weekend was being used for COVID vaccinations. It's a very impressive place and it was buzzing with activity all weekend long. Now that I've told you how beautiful and wonderful the Lake Point Sports Complex is, I can now tell you how poorly things were run.
Don't get me wrong, I like going there to watch my grandson Coleman and his team play but there were just too many obstacles standing in the way preventing what should have been a great experience.
First of all, with Lake Point being a good hour and 20 minute drive from Chattanooga some parents chose to try to spend at least one night in a hotel. There are a couple on the same exit but a room at a very basic Hampton Inn was going for $256 per night, while a similar Hampton Inn just down the road a few miles was charging $110 per night. I understand higher prices caused by "demand" but that is nothing more than price gouging. A few of our parents chose the cheaper room 10 miles away, while most of us commuted from Chattanooga.
Our team finished pool play with a 2-1 record, outscoring our opponents 35-9, yet we were only seeded fourth out of eight teams to make bracket play. This really didn't bother me but the way the schedule worked out did. We played our third and final pool play contest at 8:00 Saturday night, won 17-3 and as we were leaving we were told we would be seeded second and would play at 2:00 on Sunday. Within a few minutes, we discovered we were the fourth seed and would have to begin bracket play at 8:00 a.m. Sunday morning. That's after finishing up at 10:00 on Saturday. We were facing an hour and 20 minute drive to get home at midnight after finding something to eat at a drive through, sleeping for less than five hours, then getting up and leaving at 5:30 a.m. to get back to Lake Point in time to warm up and take batting practice at 7 a.m. More than half our team took that option.
For 11-year-old kids that is totally unfair and the bracket schedule should have been altered to fix that problem. By the way, when our players finally woke up they were behind 10-0 to a team that spent the night within spitting distance of the park. We were on our way home by 9:30 a.m. on Sunday morning.
That's still not the worst of things. The concession stand served pretty good food but getting it was precarious at best. When it was open, if you ordered a hamburger or chicken sandwich, you could wait 20 minutes or more to get your food. On Saturday night, however, the concession stand chose to close early even though there were signs posted saying they would be open until the last games begin at 8:00. By 7:00, with our kids starving as most 11-year-olds are, the concession stand closed, and rudely pulled all the signs down, with many fans and players needing food and drinks. Our Saturday games were at 6:00 and 8:00 so we were out of luck as far as getting food.
If people are going to pay several hundred dollars to play in a tournament, pay a gate fee and be forced to pay high concession prices, whoever is responsible for putting on the event should at least try to be more accommodating and put as much concern for the youngsters involved as you do for lining your pockets.
Randy Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org