As I write this morning, I am looking at the Gulf of Mexico which is much calmer than it was yesterday. My wife and I are here because my grandson's 9 and under Fury baseball team is here in Gulf Shores, Alabama for the USSSA Global World Series. It's the final event of the year for the Fury - a year of really good success so far. They have a 35-13-2 record with six tournament championships, and six other runner-up titles. It remains to be seen how they fare this week in the Global World Series, as there are a lot of teams from Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Mississippi participating. There are even teams from Puerto Rico here this week. All in all, there are more than a thousand players here playing the greatest game ever.
The Fury has 11 players and also here for the week are parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, little brothers and sisters.
Along with the players there are a total of 52 other people here to cheer them on. That's 63 people from just one team. Multiply that by 100 and you have 6,300 people here for the entire week. Talk about economic impact. I have no idea how much each family will spend on lodging, food, admissions, shopping, etc. My family will spend about $4,000 this week. Some groups will spend more, some will spend less. To do the math, let's say each family will spend the same amount. That's $44,000 just from the Fury. Multiply that by 100 teams and you have an economic impact of $4.4 million for just this week.
I've never been good at math, (as my friend Coach Sonny Smith used to say, "I failed math in three states.") But I know that $4.4 million bucks in just one week will mean a lot for any community. Cities like Gulf Shores do not really need baseball because they have the beach and the Gulf of Mexico to draw people here. But during the warm weather months, there is a big tournament here just about every week. Just last week, the Exposure Black 9 and under team from Middle Valley won the event.
I've spent a lot of time promoting a new facility that can handle baseball and softball for Chattanooga. Keep in mind, like Gulf Shores, Chattanooga is already a big tourist destination. But we could do so much better with a super new facility to play baseball and softball tournaments in. To be honest, the Summit is a super facility but it needs to expand from its current eight fields. An expansion and an upgrade with artificial playing surfaces would suffice.
In the meantime, after I finish writing this morning, I will likely pack up my cooler, chairs and umbrella and head to the SportsPlex here in Gulf Shores to watch the Fury play its first two games of the tournament. Then it's back to the beach for some relaxation. As the slogan on my seven-year-old grandson's T-shirt said this morning, " Baseball, Eat, Sleep, Repeat. "
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Randy Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org