District 27 Little League Tournament means economic benefits for Victoria
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Scott McLeod took time to sit back and relax Thursday afternoon, knowing he would be plenty busy that evening. As assistant coach for the Victoria Southeast Little League, he planned to hit the field with his team as they battled it out in the district championship game.
The District 27 Little League Tournament took up home in Victoria this week, and it didn't just offer its 32 participating teams a chance to play for top honors. Local businesspeople say the event also gave a boost to the local economy.
Events like the tournament are good for the community because they contribute to the sales tax base, said Randy Vivian, president and CEO of the Victoria Chamber of Commerce. Those who come to town purchase gas, eat in restaurants, shop in stores and more.
The influx helps alleviate increased taxes down the road, he said.
Vivian said such events also give people an idea of what Victoria has to offer, and might draw them back for future visits.
"The hope is they'll come for the softball tournament but then come back and visit for extended stay," he said.
The tournament's opening night brought about 350 spectators for the first game and the same number for the second, said Jeff Vedrenne, the league's District 27 administrator. Games took place at the softball and baseball fields at Riverside Park, as well as the fields at the Victoria Youth Sports Complex.
Crowds continued to make their way to the stands through the weekend and, on Tuesday, the pod of spectators exceeded 2,000 people, Vedrenne said.
"We've had pretty big crowds," he said, explaining the district covers 15 Little League zones, from Karnes County to Jackson County. "It's been a great turnout."
The McDonald's restaurant at 3112 N. Navarro St. remained busy throughout the week, especially during lunch time, said Mary Zuniga, the store's manager. She said she couldn't attribute it directly to the tournament, but said she suspected other restaurants near the playing areas saw business increase, as well.
Business was up Thursday at Carino's Italian Restaurant Restaurant, 4904 N. Navarro St., said Blake Mozisek, the restaurant's kitchen manager. Like McDonald's, he couldn't attribute it solely to the ball tournament, but he said he was glad for the change.
"The more sales the better," he said. "It's definitely a good thing."
Victoria hosts tournaments each year but this is one of the larger sporting events at the youth sports complex, said Shane Simon, recreation services manager with the City of Victoria's Parks and Recreation Department.
He agreed it offers economic benefits, but said the ball players and their families also see benefits from locating the events in Victoria. Victoria is easily accessible and boasts nice fields, he said, adding that he enjoys seeing the fields put to good use.
"It's what these fields were built for," he said. "It's exactly what they were intended to be used for. I'm excited it's come to fruition and is being utilized like it's supposed to be."
As for McLeod, he said his team hasn't spent too much money, mainly because they already live in Victoria.
He went out for meals with the family and many players went out for meals after games, he said, but he suspected many out-of-town teams made pit stops at local eateries before hitting the road.
"That's what we do when we play games out of town," he said. "With the games being so late, sometimes you don't have any choice but to stop for something to eat."