While hundreds of girls from across the South warmed up their bats, businesses in Johnson City were preparing to fill their coffers.
Karen Hubbs, director of sports development for the Johnson City Chamber of Commerce, said the 225 players and coaches and the 675 fans they bring with them for the annual Amateur Softball Association of America tournament will have a profound impact on the local economy.
“We’ve got a little bit smaller tournament than we did last summer,” Hubbs said Thursday. “But the 700 people coming for this event should generate around $200,000.”
Last year, the ASA’s girls Class A 18 and under tournament brought 95 teams to the area from 28 states and provided a major boon to local businesses.
Hubbs said the girls Class B 14 and under group is smaller this year, but said it’s a product of an arrangement with other Tennessee communities to share the wealth.
“Representatives from communities across the country go to a convention to bid on those events,” she said. “We’re in a partnership with Chattanooga so we don’t have to go head-to-head with other places in Tennessee.
“Last year we had our Class A, this year Chattanooga is hosting the Class A 12 and under and next year we will have the Class A 10 and under,” Hubbs said.
Of the 15 teams, four are locally based, two from Johnson City, one from Kingsport and one from Elizabethton. The rest hail from North Carolina, Texas, Louisiana, Virginia, Ohio, Florida and out-of-town communities elsewhere in Tennessee.
Hubbs said the new money the outside visitors bring into Johnson City contributes to the $300 each year sports tourism efforts save city residents on their property taxes.
“That’s really our goal, is to get tourists coming in and spending money at our local restaurants, hotels and gas stations,” she said. “Dollars coming in from outside really helps our economy.”
This year, most of the games will be played at Winged Deer Park’s sports fields today and Saturday. The championship game will be played Sunday at ETSU’s Betty Basler Field.
Like last year, some of the games will be streamed live on the Internet on the tournament’s website, www.johnsoncityasanationals.com.
“It’s going to be another exciting year for softball in Johnson City,” Hubbs said. “I hope everyone will come out to watch the games or watch them on the Internet.”