$60 million sports complex announced in Mattoon

Rendering of Lincoln Land of Sports bridge connecting fields to retail space (stores and restaurants)

Today’s Journal Gazette newspaper announced the Lincoln Land of Sports, a $60 million sports complex, will be developed in Mattoon, IL. The complex will be located just west of I-57 and will cover nearly 96 acres.

The complex is planned to have the following facilities:

  • Indoors (126,000 sq. ft.)
    • 8 basketball courts
    • 16 volleyball courts
    • A family entertainment center

  • Outdoors (86 acres)
    • 4 baseball/softball fields (300 ft. fence)
    • 4 baseball/softball fields (400 ft. ence)
    • 12 multipurpose turf fields
    • 4 multipurpose grass fields
  • 2,000 parking spaces

The goal is to attract traveling teams from Chicago, Indianapolis and St. Louis. The center is projected to generate 580,000 visitors, more than $23.8 million in direct spending and more than 59,000 hotel room nights each year.

Journal Gazette-Times Courier

Development is expected to begin in 18 months with the facility completed in two years.

Diagram of the proposed sports complex

IESA Post-season Update

Congratulations to area schools that qualified for the state tournament via wins this past weekend! These schools will play on Friday, Sept. 24 at Champion Fields in Normal. Championship play will begin Saturday, Sept. 25 at 9:30am. A full game schedule is available on the IESA website.


  • Brimfield
  • Corpus Christi
  • Lexington


  • Illini Bluffs
  • Metamora


  • Chatham Glenwood
  • Washington Central


Congratulations to local umpires and UICs working the state tournament this upcoming weekend! If you have free time Friday or Saturday, you are encouraged to support your fellow blues and watch some good ball games.

  • Chris Smith
  • Emory Appleberry
  • Jim Bauser
  • Roger Nichols
  • Jason Sprout
  • Rick Birkelbaw
  • Roger Holzhauer
  • Ron Helgeson
  • Phil Byrne
  • Fred McNeely
  • Jon Carls
  • Johnny Chance
  • Lyle Meador

2021 IHSA Softball State Finals Dedicated to Chris Long

Many coaches, umpires, and athletic directors fondly remember Chris Long. A fellow umpire, NJCAA assignor, IHSA clinician, and more, Chris touched our lives deeply. Chris passed away unexpectedly on June 11, 2019.

The IHSA dedicated this week’s 2021 softball state finals to Chris, where umpires showed their respects with a patch commemorating him.

View the IHSA press release.


ISU’s Morgan Day Transfers to OK State

One of the best strikeout pitchers in America is headed to Oklahoma State as a graduate transfer.
Right-hander Morgan Day, a first-team All-Missouri Valley Conference selection who ranked in the top 15 nationally in strikeouts per seven innings, strikeout-to-walk ratio and shutouts in 2021 is eligible to compete for OSU in the 2022 season.

Read the full article on the OSU softball website.

CISassigning Umpires at IHSA State

Congratulations to the following CISassigning members who will be working the IHSA state tournament in Peoria this week!


  • Rick Birkelbaw
  • Bob Muschal
  • Steve Sronce


  • Roger Nichols – UIC
  • Roger Holzhauer
  • Jon Carls
  • Michael Puckett
  • Lyle Meador

The IHSA state tournament will take place Wednesday, June 16, and Thursday, June 17 at Louisville Slugger Complex in Peoria.

2021 NCAA D1 Post-season Schedule

The 2021 NCAA Division 1 post-season is underway with regionals wrapping up. Super regionals begin on Thursday, May 27 with most games being broadcast on one of the EPSN channels.

The best-of-3 super regional series will certainly produce some great games.

I encourage you to watch at least a few innings to observe the umpires. While a four-person crew isn’t something we ever work locally, it’s still a fantastic opportunity to watch and learn from officials working these high-level games.

The NCAA website has a great interactive bracket to see which teams are playing.

A full television schedule is also available if you’d like to tune in.

USSSA Expands Tournaments in Illinois

The United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA) is expanding its tournament schedule in Illinois. The state UIC shared that USSSA is prominent in southern Illinois and is expanding its tournament schedule moving north this year.

Champaign-Urbana, Decatur, and Peoria will all host USSSA tournaments this season. The Louisville Slugger complex in Peoria will host the USSSA State Championships (July 8-11) and the USSSA Great Lakes National Championships (July 19-24).

USSSA umpires are easily recognized in their trademark red uniform shirts and heather grey pants, accompanied by black hat and black ball bags.

If you’re interested in becoming a USSSA registered umpire visit the USSSA Umpire Registration page. The organization offers multiple tiers of membership and allows umpires to choose if they want to accept or decline insurance coverage from the organization.

IHSA Decision Shakes Up the Season

A couple of weeks ago the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) adjusted the start date of many Spring sports, softball included. With practices able to start on April 7, and no more than seven practice dates before being able to play, most high schools have adjusted their schedules.

Originally many schools had their games starting later in the Spring and going through early-to-mid June. The IHSA Spring softball season is slated to end on Saturday, June 19, with the possibility of a state series to wrap up the season.

Umpires have likely seen a number of cancellations over the past couple days as schools move their late May/early June games to mid-April. These changes have caused a lot of work for athletic directors, assignors, and umpires. Believe me, the athletic directors have earned their pay over the past year as they work to provide the best possible athletic experience to student athletes.

As with any Spring, there will be additional adjustments as mother nature brings us showers, and games get postponed, rained out, or rescheduled. I sincerely thank all of you for your patience and understanding as we work to get things squared away.

Yours in sport,


Tri-Valley Summer League Contracts with CISassigning

The Tri-Valley Summer travel league has contracted with CISassigning to assign its Summer softball program. Those games will be posted in upcoming months.

The Tri-Valley league features three teams – 9u, 12u, and 14u totalling approximately 20 games between the teams. This program plays under USA softball regulations, so umpires must be USA patched to work their games.

Sangamon Valley Conference Contracts with CISassigning

The Sangamon Valley Conference (SVC) has contracted with CISassigning for the Fall 2020 softball season.

With a shortened season and limitations placed on schools, the SVC has collectively decided that having a single assignor to assign all softball games would simplify the experience for school personnel and allow them to focus more on student safety and well-being.

SVC member schools include Blue Ridge, Corpus Christi (Bloomington, IL), Epiphany (Normal, IL), Fisher, Heyworth, LeRoy, Lexington, Ridgeview, and Tri-Valley.

If you are an umpire interested in working these games, you will need to join the Central Illinois Softball Assigning umpire roster. You may register for an account on the CISA registration page.