Softball tournament pitches money into Jonesboro economy

By Amanda Hanson - bio | email feedback

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT)- Teams from Missouri, Tennessee, and all over Arkansas made their way to Jonesboro this weekend to participate in the Mountain Dew Grand Slam Classic at the Southside Softball Complex. It's one of many tournaments happening this weekend that's bringing in money to the area.

Mike Otts and his daughter traveled to Jonesboro from Benton, AR to compete in the 30th annual Mountain Dew Grand Slam Classic. "Well we travel all over. We're the tournament team," said Otts.

While he says they eat, sleep, and breath softball, Otts says when they travel, they tend to spend some money. "A lot of money. You're always eating out, staying in motels, I mean, it's lots of money," said Otts.

The tournament has gone on for several years, and something many teams set on their schedule each year. Park and Recreation Department Director Jeff Owens says tournaments like this one slides more money into the Jonesboro economy. "Research has shown the average adult when they come into a town spend anywhere from 200-300 dollars per day including their hotel and they spend on food. And you have a tournament where there's about 5,000 people here," said Owens.

This past May the Parks and Recreation Department took over the Jonesboro Softball Association. Ronnie Henry is from Jonesboro and has three daughters playing in the tournament. "Softball is growing in the state of Arkansas and so being able to compete against all these other areas, we have to do something to gain the advantage," said Henry.

While the Jonesboro Softball Association has always had a strong following, Henry says the Parks and Recreation Department has the resources to make them stand out as a sports venue. "Some of the things that we've been able to do that we weren't able to do before is just the upkeep of the facility," said Henry.

Upkeep such as field maintenance, updates with the score boards and improving the lights. Jeff Owens says it's the little things that can makes the difference when it comes to drawing teams to the area. "These small amenities like painting logos on the fields. Those catch people's eyes and let people know that we are going to put on a quality event. So I mean it makes a big difference on people returning and continuing to participate in these tournaments," said Owens.

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