City shuts down sports facilities after 200 people show up for fundraiser Saturday


UPDATED at 1:09 p.m.

The Seymour Parks and Recreation Department has shut down all sports facilities at city parks after a softball tournament fundraiser was held Saturday at Freeman Field Sports Complex.

Parks Director Stacy Findley said the department is not scheduling event rentals at this time and all previously scheduled events had been canceled with prior notification due to the national COVID-19 pandemic health crisis.

On March 16, Gov. Eric Holcomb ordered Hoosiers not to organize or attend gatherings with more than 50 people to prevent the spread of the virus.

But that didn’t stop the adult softball teams, most of which were from out-of-town, including one team from Cincinnati from showing up to play.

Findley estimated around 200 people in attendance.

“The parking lot was full,” she said.

Scott Wilson who helped organize the tournament as a fundraiser for a cancer patient, said in an email there were never more than four teams on the two fields at a time in order to limit the outdoor gathering to fewer than 50 people.

Players were asked to sit in their vehicles when not playing, Wilson said.

“There were seven teams altogether so at max 75 people total for the day,” he said. “Literally, everyone was there to donate money to a cancer patient. We were just trying to donate for a good cause.”

Mayor Matt Nicholson said he was not happy about the situation and went out to the park himself after receiving complaints. He then notified the police and waited for them to close the ball diamonds.

Although the sports complexes at Freeman and Kasting parks are now closed, Findley said the playgrounds and rest of the parks will remain open for the time being.

Nicholson said the parks have plenty of green space for people to use while still observing social distancing.

But playing soccer, basketball, softball or volleyball would lead to larger groups being close together, he said.

Parks employees have taken additional measures to keep playground equipment, picnic tables and restrooms sanitized, Findley said.

“We left the parks open for families and individuals to get fresh air and exercise, while still being in compliance with health and government officials,” she said. “We didn’t want to limit something small, like a dad playing catch with a child in one of our smaller fields like Kessler (Park).”

But that could change if people do not follow the rules, she said.

“We need for the community to respect our rules or we will close everything down,” she said. “I don’t want to have to close down everything, because people need options to still go outside and have fun.”

The department has seen more instances of vandalism and theft to the parks, too, especially in the restrooms.

“It has been a frustrating and disappointing week for us,” she said. “This is a time for our community, more so than ever, to be good stewards, and follow the rules and restrictions that were put in place to keep everyone alive and safe.”

No posts to display