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Wake Profits From Softball Tourney, Other Sports

Posted July 23, 2007

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— Bringing thousands of athletes, coaches and fans, nonprofessional sports events are also bringing millions in Wake County's economy.

A girls' softball tournament in Cary, running July 20-26, illustrates the economic benefits for Wake that the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau officials said have been brought by big-time sports, including U.S.A. Baseball, the NCAA men's soccer championship and a Champion's Tour golf tournament.

With 118 teams from across the country competing, the PONY National Fastpitch Nationals is expected to pump around $2 million into the local economy, said GRCVB officials.

Teams and fans, some of whom said they came from as far away as Fairfield, Connecticut, booked more than 5,000 nights at local hotels. Staff at the Comfort Suites Cary said it was completely booked for the week.

GRCVB officials have learned that it is also a competition to keep these big-time sports events coming.

In 2004, Protect Our Nations Youth decided to move the girls' softball tournament to Virginia from Cary, where it had been held since 2001.

Local businesses felt the loss of the money that the tournament had brought in, said GRCVB officials.

"We'd get lots of phone calls from the hotels and restaurants, 'Where's Pony?' 'What's going on with PONY?' 'Why don't we have PONY this summer?'' said Scott Dupree, GRCVB's director of sports marketing.

Tournament organizers said they originally left because the tournament had gotten too large for Raleigh and Cary softball fields to handle.

After the Raleigh Jaycees offered to host the tournament, however, officials decided to return to Wake this year.

The Jaycees provided the tournament with fund-raising, financial support and event management, said Jaycee officials.The Town of Cary and GRCVB joined with the Jaycees to provide additional support for the event.

In the past year, GRCVB said they have helped plan around 70 future events, which the expect will bring about $27 million into Wake County.

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  • cw Jul 24, 2007

    This is why the Aquatics center should have been approved. We spend thousands of dollars every year traveling out of the area to attend meets. Three meals and a hotel room times the entire team plus 20 other teams brings in quite an income. Cary really missed an opprotunity. Too Bad!

  • then who cares Jul 23, 2007

    Thank goodness someone has intelligence enough to want these sports in our area. We have a plentiful supply of facilities with more facilities planned. Not only do these sports add to the economy they play a much more important role in giving our kids something worthwhile to do. I remember when someone in Raleigh said it was too much work that forced them to let a higher age group of the PONY get away from us. Whoever that was needs their head examined and their position in Parks and Rec replaced with someone interested enough in our community and our kids to want to make a difference!! We also want more involvement in our local youth in fastpitch softball. Raleigh Parks and Rec has all but given up on city kids. All around us other city and county teams flourish; we're left with slow pitch for kids!! Where do kids play slow pitch except in Raleigh? And what for? It's not played in school anymore! Get off your brains and do something for our kids!!!

  • turkeydance Jul 23, 2007

    privately funded (parents) sports teams are the future of
    amateur sports. public education (high schools) can no longer
    devote High Dollar real estate to the purchase and maintenance
    of grass (fields). it's now a Pay-to-Play world.