Ripken Baseball, the business development arm created by Cal and Billy Ripken following their playing careers, announced earlier this month the development of its third Ripken Experience youth baseball complex, this one in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee.
The Ripken Experience Pigeon Forge youth complex is a $22.5 million facility that has six lighted, synthetic turf fields and will serve as a tournament destination for numerous amateur baseball and fast-pitch softball teams.
The Pigeon Forge complex is the third Ripken has opened since Cal Ripken Jr. retired as a player. The first was built in Aberdeen, Md., near his hometown of Havre de Grace, and the second was opened in Myrtle Beach, S.C., in 2006 shortly before he was inducted into the Hall of Fame.
"We are thrilled to officially open the doors to The Ripken Experience complex, where thousands of young ballplayers will soon be running, playing and competing at all levels," Cal said in a statement. "We look forward to growing with the Pigeon Forge community and our partners to provide teams and their families with the ultimate experience, both on and off the field."
The turf fields borrow some characteristics from professional parks, including Camden Yards, where Ripken set the all-time iron man streak of 2,632 consecutive games played.
In the last five years, the Ripken Foundation has developed more than 50 multipurpose turf facilities in 16 states.
"With values that include family, passions, integrity, community and a commitment to excellence, The Ripken Experience is a perfect fit for our town," Pigeon Forge Mayor David Wear said in a statement. "Those values are also incredibly important to Pigeon Forge, as our goal is to maintain our status as one of the best family vacation destinations in the country. Having Ripken Baseball as the newest member of the Pigeon Forge family is another giant step toward achieving and maintaining that goal."