Every year “literally thousands of people” visit Ormond Beach to participate in baseball, softball and soccer tournaments, Leisure Services Director Robert Carolin said.
Sports tourism helps drive the economies of many Florida communities. Seminole County, for example, built a $27 million sports complex three years ago to bring in large youth tournaments and fill hotel rooms.
Ormond Beach’s sports facilities, like those of other Volusia County communities, are primarily devoted to residents’ use, but Leisure Services is able to rent out fields during the offseasons to several national sports associations for multi-day tournaments.
“Some of the baseball tournaments that come here are so large they also use fields in New Smyrna Beach and Daytona,” Mr. Carolin said. “They bring in hundreds of teams and book lots of hotel rooms. They also work with local restaurants.”
He expects the city to bring in about 20 tournaments next year, including eight U.S. Specialty Sports Association baseball tournaments to the Ormond Beach Sports Complex.
“They do make a big difference in the economy,” Mr. Carolin said. “Teams can come from all over the United States for three or maybe four full days. They really like Ormond Beach, because we’re at a beach, we’re close enough to Orlando’s theme parks and we have amazing fields.”
In addition to bringing families to the area, the tournaments help pay for field maintenance as well as capital improvements, such as field reconstruction.
One scheduled upgrade at the complex is turning an adult softball field into a regulation college/high school fastpitch field.
Bethune-Cookman University hosts the annual Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference softball tournament at the complex’s softball quad where temporary fencing is brought in to convert the fields to regulation size. Mr. Carolin said next year the championship will be played on the upgraded field which will include a six-foot padded outfield fence.
The City Commission Oct. 15 approved a contract with A.M. Weigel Construction for the work.
Mr. Carolin said Leisure Services is careful to not overplay any of the fields.
“We have to have a balance to keep the fields in immaculate condition,” he said. “Certain periods we have to shut fields down to rye seed.
“We bring in a relatively small amount (in rental fees) compared to the economic impact,” Mr. Carolin said. “That helps justify the costs of maintaining fields through these big tournaments.”