The Brownwood area will be playing host to several baseball and softball tournaments over the next few weeks, and their impact will be felt far beyond the playing fields. During the next three weeks, two district and two state tournaments will be played in Brownwood, and Early and Bangs will each host district tournaments as well.
Those tournaments are good experiences for the boys and girls who get to compete with teams from outside their hometowns, and good for the economies of the host cities as well.
“Sports enthusiasts travel hundreds of miles each season. They eat in restaurants, stay in hotels, buy gas and snacks and purchase necessities and gifts in the town they are visiting. It is our job, as the Brownwood Visitor Center to give them the information they need to have an enjoyable trip, win or lose,” said Emily Crawford, tourism director at the Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce. “By working closely with the sporting event organizer, the chamber contacts sports teams and fans before they arrive to promote Brownwood’s lodging, restaurant and retail outlets.”
The Brownwood Girls Softball Association will be hosting the Texas Teen-Age Softball High School Eligible state championship tournament from July 12-14 at the Camp Bowie Sports Complex. There are expected to between 20 and 30 teams participating in the tournament, traveling from all over Texas. The next week, Brownwood will host 13 teams for the Texas Teen-Age Baseball Senior Midget state tournament.
This week will see four district tournaments contested in three Brown County towns. Brownwood will host the District 5 Junior Midget Boys and District 5 Junior Boys tournaments. Early will host the District 12 Freshman Open Base tournament and Bangs will host the District 2 Freshman Tight Base tournament. This past week featured the District 6 Junior Girls tournament in Early, the District 7 Freshman Girls tournament in Brownwood and the District 7 Midget Girls tournament, also in Brownwood.
Paul Underwood, co-owner of Underwood’s Cafeteria, said the tournaments are great for the area and that as a business owner he supports the efforts to host them.
“There are a lot of people who put in a lot of time and effort as volunteers just to make these tournaments happen,” he said. “There’s just no telling how many volunteer hours it takes to put these on.”
All those volunteer hours are necessary for Brownwood and Brown County to com..pete with other communities to the host the multi-day tournaments.
“The big winner in a multiple-day sporting event is really the host city and its businesses. Hotel stays and sales tax benefit the city; retail, gas, entertainment and restaurant sales benefit the businesses,” Crawford said.
Anna Iller, co-owner of Gate One Motor Inn, says the summer baseball and softball tournaments are good for her business, and that she also tries to give something back to the guests who stay with her during them.
“We always have a lot of guests during tournaments, not only the kids and coaches, but because it’s summer, parents and grandparents a lot of times stay also,” Iller said. She said a team from Winters stayed at the motel last week for a district tournament and that teams which will be here for the state tournaments later in July have already begun calling about prices and room availability.
“We try to do something special for the kids, gift bags in the rooms or something. It’s really great when people come here, they spend a lot of money. Not just on the rooms, but also shopping and at the restaurants,” she said.
Underwood said his family’s restaurant expects to see increased traffic as teams come to the area.
“We do expect to see a lot of business from it (the tournaments),” he said. “When schools are involved, they usually plan their meals, but most of the teams and families will just show up when they are here.”
“Sports tourists are a huge part of the chamber’s overall marketing plan. Ensuring the fans’ good experience in Brownwood will entice them to come back and visit us again… and the tourism cycle continues,” Crawford said.