American Legion means boom for local economy

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 30, 2003

Friday afternoon, teams from Wetumpka and West Point, Miss., bused into Demopolis for the second of three consecutive American Legion tournaments held here.

They were just two of the seven teams from across the area that painted on eye-black, laced up metal-spiked cleats, and played a weekend of baseball. They also were just two of the seven teams that dumped money on the Demopolis area economy.

While baseball is important to the young men &045;&045; ranging all the way from 15-19 years old &045;&045; having the ability and facilities to host American Legion tournaments in Demopolis is important to this economy.

Some simple numbers would give credence to the study. For each team, there are approximately 20 players and coaches combined. With each player, an average of two extra people (including parents and girlfriends) travels to Demopolis with the player.

Each team brings an average of 60 people to Demopolis, and this weekend, seven teams brought about 420 visitors to the city.

Though all players and visitors won’t stay in hotels &045;&045; some will travel back and forth &045;&045; it’s a safe bet that most will eat in Demopolis and more than half of the 420 visitors will stay in hotels.

In fact, bringing tournaments to Demopolis, along with annual events like Christmas and Freedom on the River, is the reason the Holiday Inn Express was built.

The economic impact of the American Legion tournaments was felt last weekend when Demopolis hosted a Junior American Legion tournament. This weekend, the senior teams were in town. And next weekend, the annual Firecracker tournament will be held in Demopolis.

For those three weeks combined, Demopolis will see close to 1,000 visitors &045;&045; many of them dropping money on the town.

If you build it

One of the reasons Demopolis benefits, economically, from these tournaments is because of the facilities available for baseball teams.

Park and Recreation has two regulation-size baseball fields at the complex off Highway 43 South, and people like Gary Butler know the city’s hard work maintaining those fields helps bring teams to the area.

Over the three-weekend period, two different fields &045;&045; Webb Field and Field No. 2 &045;&045; will be used for the American Legion tournaments. Both fields are regulation size and Pettus likes to boast about the superior work of his grounds crew in preparing those fields.

Leverett, who is charged with helping promote tourism in the community, knows the city gets its money back.