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The state high school softball tournament will continue to be in Hastings.

The Nebraska School Activities Association board of directors voted unanimously to keep the tournament for the next five years at the eight-field Smith Softball Complex, which has hosted the event since 2008. The board came to that decision after hearing proposals from Hastings and three other cities — York, Grand Island and North Platte — at their November meeting in Lincoln on Thursday.

“Hastings has made some things happen that we thought would be good,” NSAA executive director Jay Bellar said. “The fields out there are really good, the community does a great job of supporting the tournament and their facilities set them apart.”

Hastings’ bid included expanding the dugouts by 10 feet on the four fields used for the state tournament as well as raising the backstops 8 feet to protect fans from foul balls.

Those improvements further enhanced Hastings’ advantage over the other communities, specifically the center building in the middle of the four championship fields.

None of the other facilities presented in the bids — the 2-year-old York Ballpark Complex with seven fields, the recently expanded Veterans Athletic Complex in Grand Island (from four fields to 10) and the seven-field Dowhower Softball Complex in North Platte — offered the complete amenities in one structure like the Smith Complex.

Hastings’ three-level building houses concessions, rest rooms and a training room for athletes on the ground floor, a second level that has an umpire room, men’s and women’s locker rooms for them and a hospitality room for workers and media, and a third-floor level with large windows leading to each field for official scorers and media, a space that can handle 48 people.

There’s also balcony seating connected to the building for spectators that also has wheelchair accessibility.

York’s facility has a press box with two changing rooms and a lounge for umpires as well as upper field views for media and scorers, but with smaller window space. The Grand Island and North Platte bids did not include a permanent structure for official scorers and media, offering instead covered makeshift accommodations outdoors.

The NSAA would’ve paid York $600 to use the fields for the three-day tournament. The NSAA does not pay a facility rental in Hastings, but the hosts do keep 10 percent of the gate receipts with the other 90 percent going to the NSAA.

Hastings also offered a no-loss guarantee to cover NSAA expenses that might exceed income from ticket sales.

The 2019 first-team softball Super-Staters

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7437 or rpowell@journalstar.com. On Twitter @ronpowell_ljs.


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