Twin softball tournaments bring more than $5 million for local businesses
PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — It is a home run for local businesses when softball tournaments come to town.
More than 7,300 youth softball players, parents and coaches slid into Peoria for the United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA) Great Lakes National Championships and USSSA Illinois State Championships at Louisville Slugger Complex.
It’s the sixth year in a row that USSSA chose Peoria to host the Great Lakes tournament, taking place from July 19 to July 23.
The Illinois State Championships took place the weekend of July 8.
“The last couple weeks of July are always big for us, with week-long tournaments, that impact is substantial,” said Joe Bolen, director of operations and tournaments at Louisville Slugger Complex.
He said it has been great for local business too.
“Anytime you’re bringing in that number of teams in, they’ve all got to eat, gotta gas up, they’re all staying somewhere, so it’s a huge impact for the area,” Bolen said.
Discover Peoria estimated $5.4 million in direct economic impact for the area.
“When those 7,000 people come and stay overnight, they’re not just staying at the hotels and they’re not just hanging out at Louisville Slugger. They’re going out to eat at our local restaurants. They’re checking out our shops. They’re checking out our attractions. They’re headed out to the malls,” said MacKenzie Taylor, strategic communications manager at Discover Peoria.
Around the corner from Louisville Slugger Complex, a server at Famous Dave’s BBQ said the athletes often come in for lunch in big groups, 10 to 15 at a time.
“We can always tell when there’s a tournament coming. We’ll see, like a couple trickle in, and all of a sudden we’ll be completely slammed, we have like all slugger tables… it’s pretty crazy, it’s really good for the restaurant,” said Ali Zbinden, to-go server at Famous Dave’s.
Taylor said even if the businesses are not right next to the complex, it is still a win for them too.
“Everybody in all the businesses in the surrounding communities feel the impact of having these giant tournaments in town because they all gain from it. They all get to feel the impact, whether it’s directly or indirectly later on, from having these people in town,” she said.
Louisville Slugger Complex will be hosting the Premier Girls’ Fastpitch Midwest Regional Championship from July 26 to Aug. 1.