Southsider Voice correspondent
Other people might drive past a parcel of land and see a perfect spot for a strip mall or a subdivision.
But every time Patrick Scaringe drove past a particular 60-acre spot of greenspace near Harding Street, he imagined a sports park.
At the time he was working at General Motors. His wife, Helga, was practicing law, and their children were young.
It wasn’t exactly the best timing to take a risk on a rather quirky idea. Or was it?
When Scaringe shared his vision with his wife, she immediately supported him.
The couple quickly laid the sports park idea to rest though, when they learned the costs involved. The price tag for the land was just too far away from possibility.
Two months later the land owner asked them to make an offer. After an agreement was happily reached, they took that first scary step toward realizing the dream.
Their family van, lawn tractor and home were used as collateral for the business loan, Mrs. Scaringe said. “It was the biggest jump we had ever taken. It was really scary.”
Immediately, bulldozers rumbled onto the dream area to complete underground installation of utilities. Architects were hired.
Helga utilized her knowledge of law to present their case to a few skeptical City-County councilors. Because of a zoning issue, there were more delays, such as three weeks of heavy rains.
When the sky cleared and they discovered freshly sown grass sprouting on the dream, this entrepreneurial couple were finally in business.
“We opened the park with three softball diamonds and a building that wasn’t heated or furnished,” Mrs. Scaringe said with a laugh. “I took the kids with me and worked in the concession stand. Pat worked all day at General Motors and then wired the lights and worked in the office until the park closed every evening.”
With their sons raking ball diamonds and mowing grass and their daughters helping with concessions and other tasks, a family business was born.
“We all put a lot of sweat equity into it,” the Scaringes said. “The park helped pay for college. All of our kids went to Ball State.”
Today, all four adult children continue to work in the business.
Oldest daughter Kimberly Wiseman does the accounting. As a nurse practitioner, younger daughter Karrie Christianson helps during tournaments. Kyle and Kory Scaringe juggle responsibilities at the park around their daytime careers in education.
With a full-time manager and a grounds crew, the Indianapolis Sports Park now boasts seven softball diamonds, one college-level baseball field, three sand volleyball courts and three bar-concession areas.
For couples who met at the park, two weddings have taken place on ball diamonds, Mrs. Scaringe said.
Southside businesses have benefitted from softball, corn hole and kickball tournaments.
Three decades later, she and her husband don’t spend as many long hours there anymore.
But when they do, at least a few, if not all, of their 12 park-loving grandchildren tag along.
“We also have two granddaughters now playing volleyball at the park,” Mrs. Scaringe said proudly. “The grandkids all love the park.”