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The John Hess Softball Field Complex

1707 Shingletown Road
(Harris Twp. along Rt. 45)
State College, PA 16801

(Google Map Link)



Nestled next to rolling farmland in Harris Township along Route 45 between Boalsburg and Pine Grove Mills sits one of the “Best Kept Secrets in Central PA.” The John Hess Softball Field Complex was established in 1963 by softball enthusiasts.  In order to continue the benefits provided by the site, the complex was acquired by the Centre Region Council of Gov'ts, renovated and re-opened in 2011. Today, the complex continues as home to recreation and competition for both youth and adults.  View this 1997 magazine article (PDF) by Mr. Bill Keough about the rich history of the Hess Field Complex.

Link to 2016 Tournament Schedule


ATTENTION AREA BUSINESSES & ORGANIZATIONS: Create a buzz for your business, organization or website - and show your support for active recreation!! Centre Region Parks & Recreation seeks advertising sponsors for the OUTFIELD FENCE BANNERS at the John Hess Softball Field Complex and for Oak Hall Regional Park.

John Hess Softball
Field Complex





Softball Fields in Service





Tournaments Hosted




19 scheduled

Tournaments Games Hosted




In progress
League Games Hosted




In progress

Total Softball Games (Tournaments & Leagues)




In progress

* Includes the four softball fields at Oak Hall Regional Park (opened in May 2015).

The John Hess Field Complex named as a"2014 FIELD OF DISTINCTION"
by the Keystone Athletic Field Manager's Organization (KAFMO)

CRPR Baseball & Softball Field Sizes (PDF)

Background: In Sept. 2009, Harris Township officials proposed that the COG acquire, update and operate the complex. The site was owned by the Hess Family Estate and leased to Mr. Galen E. Dreibelbis for use by the State College Area Softball Assn. (SCASA).  Mr. Dreibelbis, working with the SCASA, was also instrumental in providing most of the facilities on the site. Given that the 4 fields have typically hosted hundreds of games each year, including many weekend tournaments, and that the Hess family wished to sell the property, the COG Regional Park Planning Committee began to evaluate the proposal in detail. These facilities play an important role in providing softball opportunities to residents, as well as providing value to local tourism with the tournaments. If these 4 fields were lost, the advances provided by planned sport facilities at the Oak Hall and Whitehall Road Regional Parks would be offset.

In November 1997, SportsNut magazine published this article (PDF) by Bill Keough about the history of the Hess Field Complex.

Safety Evaluation: On 28 Sep 2009, the COG General Forum engaged Pashek Associates for a fee not to exceed $8,000 to conduct a Safety Evaluation of the complex. The report identified the specific improvements necessary (if acquired) for visitor and player safety and to provide ADA access. The recommendations outlined in the report involved immediate, short-term and long-term improvements.

  • "Facilities Evaluation Report" (30 pages) is available HERE (0.6 MB PDF)
  • A 36" x 24" Site Plan (with notations) is also available HERE (1.9 MB PDF)
  • The slideshow presented to the COG General Forum by Mr. Pashek on 26 Oct 09 (not recommended for dial-up connections).

A summary of the report was presented by Mr. Pashek to the COG Regional Parks Planning Committee on 12 Oct 2009.  The committee held a Hess Field site visit on Monday, 19 Oct 2009. The full report was presented to the COG General Forum on 26 Oct 2009. 

Entrance Sign

Girls Softball League Acquisition: The purchase price proposed by the Hess Family was $200,000 for the 21 acres ($9,685 per acre) with the provision that the site continue to provide the community with the softball fields.  A certified appraisal secured by COG indicated a land value of $365,000 ($17,675 per acre), which clearly demonstrated the desire of the Hess Family to provide for continuing the legacy of "Hess Field."  Harris Township contributed $20,000 towards the cost; the balance of $180,000 was provided from the COG Regional Parks Capital Fund. A land survey was performed on the tract to locate the boundaries, provide elevation data for future master planning and to prepare for the closing.
On 26 July 2010, the COG General Forum approved the execution of the Sales Agreement for the acquisition, subject to the adoption by ordinance of the COG Articles of Agreement regarding the acquisition by each of the five participating municipalities. Following those municipal actions, on 23 Aug 2010 the COG General Forum confirmed the authorization for the closing (which was held on 1 Sep 2010). The project also benefited from the donation to COG of all the on-site facilities by Mr. Dreibelbis.

Food for Thought...

The Safety Improvement Project (Interim Improvements): With the COG assuming ownership effective 1 Sep 2010, the facility was closed to all uses through May 2011 to permit the safety improvements as outlined in the evaluation report. The projects will concentrate on the needed demolitions, backstop replacements, fencing repairs, ADA access, new bleachers, dugouts, infield and turf renovations, etc. In June, the facility re-opened (with 3 of 4 fields) to resume hosting games and tournaments, operated by CRPR in partnership with SCASA. Please note these community donations which have assisted this project.

The Master Site Plan: While the Safety Improvement Project will address the short-term repairs necessary for public ownership and operation, it's clear that the facilities at Hess Field warrant updates / improvements if operational expenses are to be covered by user fees. As a result, on 28 Jun 2010 the COG General Forum authorized a contract with Pashek Associates to prepare (1) a Master Site Plan to bring the complex to the level planned for the other two regional parks ($26,300) and (2) provide construction plans and documents related to the interim safety improvements ($13,700).  The Master Site Plan (with two options) was approved by the COG General Forum on 28 Mar 2011:

COMMUNITY MEETING #1 was held on 23 Sep 2010 at the Boalsburg Fire Company where the draft plan was presented by Mr. Pashek and resident input sought.


INTRODUCTORY REMARKS by the Director of Parks & Recreation (PDF, 11 Kb)
MEETING #1 SUMMARY - (PDF format, 107 Kb)

COMMUNITY MEETING #2 was held on 13 Jan 2011 at the Boalsburg Fire Company. The meeting included presentations of both the proposed Hess Field Complex Master Site Plan and the proposed revisions to the Oak Hall Regional Park Master Site Plan.  The Meeting Summary is available below.

MEETING #2 AGENDA (PDF, 85 Kb). More meeting details...

MEETING PHOTOS - Posted here
MEETING #2 SUMMARY - (PDF format, 132 Kb)

The MASTER SITE PLAN (approved by the COG General Forum on 28 Mar 2011) contains two optional layouts for future selection (after the 4 all-age softball fields at Oak Hall Regional Park are constructed):

The complete MASTER SITE PLAN REPORT is available HERE (8.2 MB PDF)

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The CRPR Authority is a publicly-funded, municipal agency serving 5 municipalities since 1966. The Authority also maintains 501c3 status.
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The Centre Region Parks & Recreation Authority
2643 Gateway Drive #1, State College, PA. USA 16801   (814)231-3071   Fax 814.235.7832