State softball will stay in FD

Contract extension signed through at least 2025

Messenger photo by Britt Kudla: Craig Royster leads a cheer in front of Fort Dodge fans during a state tournament game at Rogers Park.

The state softball tournament will continue to call Rogers Sports Complex home well into a sixth decade of partnership with the Fort Dodge community.

The Fort Dodge City Council approved a five-year contract extension proposal from the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union on Monday night, finalizing the details that will keep the championships at Rogers Sports Complex through at least 2025.

The week-long event has been held in Fort Dodge annually since 1970.

“We are happy to know the IGHSAU has continued confidence in our staff and community to host the state softball championships,” FD Parks, Recreation and Forestry Director Lori Branderhost said. “It has been a 50-plus year partnership built on relationships between the City, the IGHSAU, Iowa Central and the Fort Dodge Convention and Visitors Bureau. The investments the City and Webster County have made in our community, region and complex are reflected in their decision to stay in Fort Dodge.

“We can’t wait to welcome our softball family and friends to Harlan and Hazel Rogers Sports Complex next week for another great tournament.”

In the 51 consecutive state events held at Rogers Park, a total of 893,002 fans have attended — a yearly average of 17,509. The Fort Dodge CVB estimates the direct financial impact on the community is $1.2 million annually, with an indirect value of nearly $4 million. Approximately 3,000 hotel room nights are logged during the week.

Iowa Central’s campus, meanwhile, hosts on average 30 of the 40 qualifying programs from the five classes in its dormatory and apartment facilities. Meal tickets and access to ICCC’s practice facilities are included in the package.

“Iowa Central takes a lot of pride in being a part of the state softball experience,” ICCC Athletic Director Kevin Twait said. “Our entire staff goes the extra mile to help make sure the players and coaches receive first-class treatment, from room and board to our food services. We appreciate the hard work and commitment of everyone on campus, and everyone in the community who is a part of the process as well. It’s something we look forward to every year.”

Fort Dodge Mayor Matt Bemrich also emphasized the ongoing collaborative effort.

“Fort Dodge is again honored to continue our partnership with the Iowa Girls State Softball Tournament,” Bemrich said. “This relationship continues to be a huge part of our summers here in Fort Dodge, and our community is so proud to host these teams, fans, and workers.

“As Mayor, I would like to thank all of the amazing people of Fort Dodge for your commitment and hard work to help keep Fort Dodge the great city it is as host of the state tournament.”

The 2021 state softball tournament begins on Monday at 11 a.m. Quarterfinal action is Monday and Tuesday, with the semifinals taking place Wednesday, July 14.

The Class 1A and 2A championships are Thursday, July 15, and the 4A and 5A finals are on Friday, July 16.

Annual one-year automatic renewals after 2025 are also currently included in the agreement reached between the IGHSAU and the City of Fort Dodge, though another long-term extension could be considered sometime before the current five-year deal expires.


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