City receives praise for tournament effort

Published 8:54 pm Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Babe Ruth 14U Southeast Regional wraps up play today in the tournament finals, bringing to a close a week in which Demopolis has been on display to teams from seven states.

“We’ve been overwhelmed by what we’ve heard as far as the town and the facilities,” Babe Ruth regional representative Rob Pearson said. “People have been very complimentary. I believe the biggest thing is that it changes people’s perceptions of Demopolis.”

“I thought there were going to be a whole bunch of football fans down here because it was Alabama,” Kelvin Battle of Pitt County, N.C. said. “The people are real nice when we go to the restaurants. The people at the hotel are real nice.”

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Perceptions were also changed for Kingsport, Tenn.’s Rookie Salyers, who said his only previous knowledge of Demopolis came from pictures he had seen on the internet.

“I just pulled the picture up on the internet and I expected a town surrounded by water and, so far, I have not seen any water,” Salyers said.

Salyers also echoed Battle’s sentiments regarding the treatment he and his family have received from local establishments and individuals.

“The people have bent over backwards to help us,” he said.

Pearson believes that Demopolis continued success with state and regional tournaments is based primarily on the city’s facilities and one of its greatest natural resources, its hospitality.

“It has been absolutely nothing but positive. People leave saying that we exceeded their expectations,” Pearson said. “The field is in such perfect playing condition. The facilities are comparable to minor league facilities as far as the grounds and what they play on. We’re going to have hosted 22 or 23 games and, every game, the field is in such perfect playing condition.”

“The facilities are fantastic,” Battle added. “The grounds keepers are doing a fantastic job. The games are starting right on time.”

Demopolis has hosted Babe Ruth state tournaments on an annual basis over the last several years and will host the Babe Ruth 9U state draw in 2011. The 2010 14U tournament is the first Babe Ruth regional the city has seen.

Since its inception, the Sports-Plex has also played host to a number of major events, including a World Series for the National Baseball Congress semi-pro league, a Southeast Regional Tournament for the NAIA, two Southern Junior Colleges Baseball Regional Tournaments, a Southern Junior Colleges Softball Tournament and an American Legion Southeast Regional Tournament that featured eight states and Puerto Rico.