Ballpark Digest Announces Inaugural Baseball Awards of Distinction

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Honors go to Mandalay Sports Entertainment, John Henry Moss; Ballparks in North Little Rock, Midland & Idaho Falls.

Three ballparks, one sports management organization and a longtime league president are receiving top honors this week with the announcement of the inaugural Ballpark Digest Awards of Distinction.

New Ballpark of the Year honors are shared by Dickey-Stephens Park in North Little Rock, Ark. and Dow Diamond in Midland, Mich. The award for Best Ballpark Renovation goes to Melaleuca Field in Idaho Falls, Idaho. Organization of the Year is awarded to Mandalay Sports Entertainment for successes recorded by franchises Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees, Staten Island Yankees, Dayton Dragons, Hagerstown Suns, Rancho Cucamonga Quakes and the Erie SeaWolves. South Atlantic League founder and president John Henry Moss received the individual Award of Distinction.

New Ballpark of the Year: Dickey-Stephens Park, designed by HKS Sports Entertainment Group and built by East-Harding/Hensel Phelps Construction, features an interesting and unique railroad theme. The new home of the Arkansas Travelers includes a stunning view of downtown Little Rock, a landmark clock tower and affordable concessions.

New Ballpark of the Year: Dow Diamond, designed by HOK Sport and built by Three Rivers Corp., is built on a grand scale with fireplaces on each side of the concourse and fire pits in the outfield - a unique reflection of mid-Michigan's rural character. Home to the newly established Great Lakes Loons, Dow Diamond includes a two-tiered fan shop and self-contained concourse.

Best Ballpark Renovation: Melaleuca Field, formerly known as McDermott Field, now features a gorgeous grandstand and group seating areas with a generous amount of brick work throughout the ballpark, making for an inviting and warm, classic feel. Home to the Idaho Falls Chukars, the extensive renovations designed locally by architect Kevin Bodily of Nielson, Bodily and Associates were accomplished on a tight budget.

Baseball Organization of the Year: Mandalay Sports Entertainment not only breathed some new life into two struggling baseball communities in 2007, but recorded increased attendance numbers at all six of its baseball franchises. Working jointly with the New York Yankees, Mandalay turned operations around both at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and Staten Island. They join the Dayton, Hagerstown, Rancho Cucamonga and Erie franchises as quality baseball operations with a growing attendance trend line and - not coincidentally - strong reputations for putting the fans' experience first.

The 2007 individual Award of Distinction: John Henry Moss, founder and president of the South Atlantic League, has overseen the Sally League and its predecessors for half a century and kept the baseball tradition alive through some very lean times. With 50 years of experience since he founded the eight-team Western Carolina League in 1948, the longest-serving minor-league president in history plans to step down at the end of this year. Moss not only nurtured the league through reorganization and many difficult years a generation ago, but in more recent years he has expanded the sweep of South Atlantic League with franchises located from Georgia to Ohio.

Ballpark Digest received a total of 32 nominations for the inaugural Awards of Distinction. In addition to the award winners, several finalists received recognition. Those finalists include: Joe Faber Field - home of the St. Cloud (Minn.) River Bats, Damaschke Field - home of the Oneonta (NY.) Tigers, and Joannes Field - home of the Green Bay Bullfrogs, all three vying for Best Ballpark Renovation; and Rent One Ballpark - home of the Southern Illinois Miners in Marion, for New Ballpark of the Year.

The 2007 Ballpark Digest Awards of Distinction will be formally presented in early December at baseball's winter meetings in Nashville.

"Baseball takes great pride in John Henry Moss and his five decades of accomplishment, as well as the collective efforts of so many who contributed to the tremendous successes at Mandalay Sports Entertainment and the award-winning ballparks in North Little Rock, Midland and Idaho Falls," said Kevin Reichard, founder of BallparkDigest.com. "We thank everyone who participated in the nomination process, and appreciate the opportunity to present these well-deserved 2007 Awards of Distinction."    

ABOUT BALLPARK DIGEST
Launched in 2003, BallparkDigest.com is a leading media authority on ballparks and the baseball industry. Parent company August Publications (AugustPublications.com), founded in 1999 and based in Minneapolis, is a publisher of sports and active-living websites and books. Baseball books currently in print are The Complete Guide to Big League Ballparks and The Complete Guide to Spring Training. Additional websites include ArenaDigest.com, SpringTrainingOnline.com and the recently launched ScooterMaxi.com; coming soon are environmental-awareness websites and the outdoors website, Wanderkit.com.

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