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Visitors will have significant economic impact

DEMOPOLIS — One of the most anticipated events of the year kicks off Saturday with the first pitch of the Alabama Babe Ruth 14U All-Star Tournament. While the competition will last only four days, the potential economic impact of the event is expected to linger much longer.

The tournament will feature 10 teams, including the West Alabama team that will serve as the host squad. Each team is expected to bring with it 12 players plus coaches and family members, creating the potential for a considerable boost to local restaurants and hotels.

“I know that most teams are securing 12 rooms with two to four people per room. That’s just the team and parents. That doesn’t take into account grandparents or anybody else,” Jay Shows, owner of Best Western Two Rivers Hotel and Suites, said.

Shows explained that June, July and August are prime business months for the hotel industry. However, this weekend’s tournament still provides a boost unlike anything Demopolis would otherwise see.

“The fact that this tournament comes in makes it one of those rare occasions where every hotel does very strong for those two, two and a half days,” Shows said.

In addition to the boost local hotels will receive, the event is expected to impact the flow of business to the city’s dining establishments, gas stations and convenience stores, bringing outside dollars into the city that are reportedly expected to turnover anywhere from four to seven times in the local economy.

Perhaps one of the most intriguing aspects of the tournament is that it comes at a minimal cost to the city. According to Babe Ruth District 10 commissioner Rob Pearson, the only cost incurred by the city came from the parks and recreation department, which contributed $500 toward the sponsorship of the Friday night banquet at Fairhaven Baptist Church. Pearson said he believes the city will make back more than it invested simply through the concessions profits the parks and recreation department will reap at the Sports-Plex.

“This is a prime example of using what you already have in place to promote the city of Demopolis,” Pearson said. “We have got the best baseball facility in the state and it should be used for more events like this.”

Demopolis secured the event after Pearson entered the city for consideration to host the annual staple. Unlike Dixie Youth, the league in which city youth used to compete, Babe Ruth and Cal Ripken assign out tournaments rather than going through an elaborate bid process.

“With our facility’s reputation, they’re all eager to come whenever our name is brought up,” Mark Pettus, Demopolis Parks and Recreation Department director, said.

The financial expense on the city is minimal, since the city was not required to front any money to procure the tournament. Also, the tourney is staffed by the local Babe Ruth Baseball League, which runs off of volunteer manpower.

“Park and rec will have the luxury of just sitting back and making sure the fields are taken care of and the facilities are ready to go, which is great because we have to pay our people. We don’t have volunteers,” Pettus said.

“That’s one of the advantages of going to Babe Ruth and Cal Ripken,” Pearson said of the decision to move away from the Dixie Youth Baseball League. “This is one of the ways for Demopolis to recoup the investment on the fine facilities we have.”