Home run for Lloyd

By Geoff Lee

June 29, 2017 12:00 AM

IN THE CATBIRD SEAT Xezanne Bajo, front desk agent at the Hampton Inn by Hilton, will help welcome hundreds of players taking part in the U-18 Women's Fast Pitch Championships July 31-Aug. 6. The hotel has blocked 50 rooms according to Softball Canada. The event will provide an economic boost to some city busineeses. GEOFF LEE LLS PHOTO

The Under 18 Women’s Canadian Fast Pitch Championships will be an economic homer for Lloydminster during the dog days of summer.
“In particular, it’s a good fit, a nice mid-week event in the summer, and that’s when our locals are often hitting the lake,” said Ward Read, general manager, economic development for the city.
“This will help to keep activity in the hotels, restaurants and retail stores, and give them a boost during that period.”
The tournament will take place at the Legion Ball Park from July 31 to Aug. 6, and will bring in about 20 teams of 15 players each from all across Canada.
Softball Canada estimates there will be 350 participants, including coaches and managers who will all be spending money during the seven-day tournament.
As well, parents, friends, family members and out-of-town spectators will swell that number.
“We have our umpires and our Softball Canada personnel that are heading down and probably some of our national team scouts,” said Mike Branchaud, manager of Canadian Championships.
While hotels and restaurants will benefit the most, Read said he can make an accurate estimate of personal daily spending by visitors.
“The economic benefit is really one that would be quite clear,” he said.
Read referred to data from an economic impact study of the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association volleyball championships, hosted by Lakeland College in 2013.
“At that time, we measured that an overnight visitor spends about $276 a day, whereas a day tripper spends about $68 a day,” he said.
“Clearly when you host a national championship of this nature, there is going to be a lot of participants, and a lot of spectators coming from far outside of our normal bounds.
“They’re the ones who tend to spend the most.”
The accommodation link on Softball Canada’s website confirms the potential spending impact with more than 240 Lloydminster hotel rooms blocked at five listed hotels with discount rates from $104 to $129 per night.
“It’s not just the hotels, but the food they take on, all the little things,” said Warren Noble, tournament chair.
Additional spending and exposure for city businesses will be generated by event sponsors including Factory Sports, Sobeys, Arby’s, Foremost, Synergy Credit Union, L&L Oilfield, and BAR Engineering.
U-18 fast pitch is the latest in a string of sports tourism events Lloydminster has hosted, in keeping with the city’s strategy to promote our community as a destination host.
The most recent major sporting event was Rogers Hometown Hockey held earlier this year, with the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling coming to town Oct. 24-29.
Read pointed to a couple of factors that are making Lloyd a host destination city for a wide variety of events,  including fast pitch softball.
“Certainly one is infrastructure,” he said, noting a plethora of ball diamonds in town.
“Another piece of the puzzle is the fact we have committed volunteers and experienced volunteers.”
Read said every time Lloydminster hosted national volleyball, national hockey and baseball tournaments or entertainment at the Lloydminster Exhibition Grounds, it raises capacity and raises our community reputation.
“Softball Canada is aware of our reputation,” he said.
The U-18 bid was drafted by the Lloydminster Amateur Softball Association and vetted through Softball Canada, with support from the province led by Softball Alberta.
Branchaud at Softball Canada said there were a lot of factors in the bid that likely gave the nod to Lloydminster as the host city.
He noted Lloyd has a good facility, airport proximity and a partnership with Softball Alberta, and the fact Alberta hasn’t hosted the event for several years.
Last year, it was held in Charlottetown, PEI.
“There’s many factors—the host committee seemed to have a strong link with the local community and the softball side of things as well,” said Branchaud.
“Those are also factors we will look at.”
The U-18 fast pitch event could also help to spur a mini industry in the city for the sport’s baseball cousin, and plans for an Academy of Baseball to be based at the new Synergy Vault are in the advanced stages.
Josh Herback-South has been hired as the academy coach with a startup date in August, and a long-term vision to provide development and elite programs year round.
“The economic spinoffs at this point is money rotating within the city of Lloydminster, but as the academy grows, we will bring in outside people and students,” said David Keck, one of principles and organizers of the academy.

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