With the lights on the premises, everything looks to be shaping up well for Heber Springs’ new sports complex. All eight fields have new lights surrounding them, only needing to be set in the ground.

With the lights on the premises, everything looks to be shaping up well for Heber Springs’ new sports complex. All eight fields have new lights surrounding them, only needing to be set in the ground.
City of Heber Athletic Director Lance Hamilton said he doesn’t know the exact date of when the lights will be raised, but he said they are good, reliable lights, with a life expectancy of 15-20 years. 
“The way I understand it MUSCO, a company out of Iowa, really has a sweet set-up with their program. If a bulb goes out they will know up there at the same time we will through a computer system, said Hamilton. “The light poles and bases are on the ground but it could be some time before they are put up.”
Taking a close look at the new park, it’s hard not to dream of what is on the horizon for baseball and softball in Heber. The complex has more attention to detail than parks in towns of similar size.
Walking down to the high school field, which will feature a large scoreboard with an inning count, I first noticed how nice the new stands look. Both sides have roughly 10 rows of steel seating that is much longer and more comfortable looking than the former Optimist Park.
Earlier this summer during an American Legion game, an opposing fan actually fell through the visiting bleachers at the old park, luckily, he was alright and got a laugh out of it.
Behind the plate, three rows of chairback seats give fans the best view in the park, besides perhaps the press box that has enough room for press (hopefully) and the scorekeeper(s).
Speaking of press boxes, each field has a nice air-conditioned facility that looks down on the action, allowing scorekeepers and press to do their jobs in a comfortable setting. I’ll still be outside much of the time taking pictures, but I’ll look forward to cooling off a bit in the “skyboxes.”
Plus, having places to cool down for the workers is crucial when trying to run large tournaments, which the city is strongly pushing for.
Getting back to the high school field, the dugouts are underground a bit like the big leagues and have vents so they don’t turn into saunas during the summer. The vents are a nice touch found in all dugouts, which vary in size but are all well built.
Speaking of well-built, each field has concrete at the base of the infield fencing, which is actually netting. The netting on all fields is perhaps my favorite part of the complex.
The huge nets allow less foul balls to reach the stands meaning less possible injuries and less scuffed up balls. The balls will also benefit from not hitting against a metal fence every time they are fouled straight back.
Tournaments involve a lot of balls especially for baseball, which can be expensive so the netting will help save money in the long run, plus spectators can see better.
When looking for a snack, two enormous concession stands that face all fields are conveniently located.
Overall, I’ve seen some much bigger complexes in bigger cities but have never seen one with as much attention to detail as this one here in Heber. I’ve always thought quality is better than quantity and that seems to be what Heber is shooting for, although there looks to be room to expand, if necessary.
Now let’s just hope the grass meshes in time to play ball this upcoming season. The two high school fields (baseball, softball) seem to be coming along slowly but better than the rest.
Oh, and one more thing. We don’t have to worry about our vehicles getting slammed by foul balls now that the parking lot is behind the fences rather than between the fields like the former Optimist Park.

(Will Gilbert is sports editor for The Sun-Times. Send comments to sports@thesuntimes.com)