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Brad Freeman, FNC Park staff ready for a busy fall schedule in Oxford

By John Davis

FNC Park Commission

A break in the action comes to an end this weekend for Brad Freeman and the staff at FNC Park.

Updates to the facility are completed, and it’s time for tournaments to return. The Oxford Park Commission has already started playing fall soccer at FNC. Various USSSA baseball tournaments are set to begin this weekend and run through the fall.

“In the South in the fall, high school football and college football, that is what consumes people’s weekends. But we had the Jason Farese Rounding Third tournament, a men’s slow-pitch softball tournament and then the Ole Miss cross country meet and then we have another fall USSSA state baseball tournament which is for every age group. That one will be pushing like 90 team,” Freeman said.

Another highlight of the fall schedule is a fast-pitch softball tournament (USSSA Fall Southeast NIT) that will involve up to 70 teams. It was an offering that Freeman was very upbeat about. The same weekend (Sept. 30) of the softball tournament, Lafayette High will be hosting a cross-country meet.

In November, the Mississippi Bombers will host a weekend fast-pitch tournament that will feature teams from as far away as St. Louis, Atlanta, Tulsa, Oklahoma and Texas. All of the out-of-state teams mean additional revenue for the area with hotel and food and gas.  FNC became an attractive destination because of the turf fields that were added.

“That’s a really good event that we’re excited about getting. We’ve been working with this club and they’re excited about coming to our place,” Freeman said.

The OPC will host soccer, fall baseball and flag football for youth at FNC this fall, as well as adult soccer. Freeman praised his grounds crew for the job they did to get all the fields ready for the start of OPC soccer, which takes place during the week through October.

“Our biggest challenge is taking care of all the mid-week stuff, the OPC games, the practices and the travel team practices, and then also getting ready for that weekend activity and trying to intermingle everyone’s schedule,” Freeman said. “I think that’s the fun part about our job is to get to accommodate all these different groups and making sure that everybody feels like their event is the most important thing we have because it is. We look at what we have each day and say that’s the most important one while also planning for all these other events. It doesn’t stop in that sense.”

A convenience that Freeman offered this year was the use of debit and credit cards at the concession stands.

“We got a lot of thanks for doing that because people don’t always carry cash,” Freeman added. “We added more turf fields in March, so that was another big thing we added or new in 2017. We were also able to asphalt the parking lot and get another 150 spaces between the softball and middle quad. We now have over 1,000 parking spaces now.”