The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Editorials

March 27, 2014

Cheering on the Iron Horse

Sports complex could be great for region

JOHNSTOWN — The three partners behind a $3 million indoor/outdoor sports facility in Paint Township are swinging for the fences.

Or have their eyes on the goal.

Or are airing it out.

Pick a sports cliche. Odds are it might be applicable for the Iron Horse Sports complex, which is envisioned as a facility that includes four outdoor turf baseball fields and a building that could host indoor football and soccer games.

It’s a big project, but it’s one that the project’s architect, Greg Tunstall of Somerset, is confident can be a success here.

“There are only 20 or 30 facilities like this in the nation, and they are major destinations for travel leagues and tournaments,” said Tunstall, an engineer and co-owner of the environmental construction firm Entact LLC. “Our intention is to be part of that top 20 list.”

Tunstall already has found a winning team in our book. He has partnered with Rick Roberts and Mike Connelly, the former minor league baseball players who run ERA Sports. Their organization has  developed a strong base in the region and their wide and varied network should allow Iron Horse to quickly find teams and players to use the new facilities.

With built-in drainage systems under the turf fields, the Iron Horse should allow baseball teams to play games when they might not be able to in many other areas.

Iron Horse could be aptly named as it appears to be on the fast track. Tunstall said he hopes to begin construction in May and have the baseball fields ready for the fall travel season.

That could mean a big boost for local baseball, but also for local tourism. By using other fields in the area, including Johns-town’s Point Stadium, ERA Sports could welcome dozens of teams for tournaments.

“We could be handling up to 40 teams on one weekend – teams of three different age groups, and that’s going to up us into a whole different level,” 

Tunstall told reporter David Hurst.

We’re excited about the prospect of Iron Horse. Just like any baseball prospect, there will be plenty of bumps along the road to its first opening day, but we wish Tunstall, Roberts and Connelly well. A hit for them would be a home run for our region.

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