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Majestic Park sees increase in youth sign-ups

by Krishnan Collins | March 17, 2023 at 4:01 a.m.
Families and players will walk through these gates at Majestic Park for another season of spring youth baseball. Games start April 3. - File photo by The Sentinel-Record

Majestic Park saw an increase in sign-ups for its second season of spring youth baseball.

In the park's first season of spring baseball in 2022, just over 500 players signed up to play. Heading into the 2023 season, with games starting April 3, around 640 kids registered to play.

The youth spring leagues at Majestic Park are for 5- to 15-year-old players, and teams have already started practice. Majestic Park General Manager Derek Phillips said one reason for the growth in numbers this year is more people have found out about the park.

"It sounds crazy to hear that some people don't know it's here," he said. "That's just the case."

Phillips added that some of the youth baseball programs in surrounding areas aren't fielding teams in all the different leagues this year.

"I think a lot of people really enjoyed playing here and told their friends," Phillips said. "I've had a lot of people have called and said, 'Hey, we heard things went really good there last year. We'd like to come play.' I'm hoping it's a product of having a good first season that more people want to play here in the second season."

Phillips said the park is not really offering anything different compared to last year in the spring leagues this season, but Majestic Park is making a few slight improvements.

"Internally, we're trying to up our game with our umpires," Phillips said. "As well as maybe get the kids a few more games and do a tournament this year for the kids. Allow the kids a little bit more practice time. But those are all just internal things."

In just over a year after opening, Majestic Park grew its reputation in the community and around the state. Phillips said he saw the park's reputation grow "a ton."

"I would imagine we've had 40 or so different, maybe 50 high schools come in here and play," he said. "We had a youth tournament for softball and baseball. I've got to believe just about every corner of the state had teams come here and play in certain age groups. A lot of the communities in Arkansas saw it."

Majestic Park made an impression on people from other states, too.

"Then recently, which has blown my mind, but I'm not that surprised I guess, just the Babe Ruth statue," Phillips said. "Hot Springs is a tourism town. Everyday when I come out of the park, there's somebody there looking at the statue getting a picture."

Phillips met tourists from Texas over the last week who were admiring the park.

"They were like, 'This is amazing,'" Phillips said. "Both families said this is the nicest park they've ever seen. They were from different areas, different days. It was just really cool to hear."

Over its first year in operation, Majestic Park proved it could host a variety of levels of play. The park hosted the Dugan Invitational collegiate baseball tournament twice, the Great American Conference tournament and other collegiate games.

Majestic Park also hosted the Southwest Sporting Goods Classic, a high-level high school showcase.

Looking ahead to spring youth baseball this year, Phillips said he is just excited to get it kicked off again.

"Last year was kind of a whirlwind," he said. "The park really kind of finished, and we started playing immediately. We were super short staffed. We've got a lot bigger work pool this year. Everybody here has experienced it for a year and kind of got it under their belt and now knows really how to handle everything a little better. We've got a much better professional umpire assigner."

Majestic Park also gave lessons to the people who signed up for umpiring.

The spring youth baseball season ends June 2.

"I'm really just excited about how much better the season's going to be even though last year a lot of people felt like it was really good," Phillips said. "I'm just excited about the season getting started and seeing all these things that I'm saying actually happen and people enjoy it."

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