The expanded recreational facility hosted its first major event — a USSSA baseball tournament — on Jesse Bynum field and four fields in the new complex on Droke Road Friday through Sunday. Gate counts topped 1,700 spectators as 27 teams took their game to the new fields.
“You have to build your resumé up, and this is a step in that right direction since we plan to seek higher levels of play,” said Corinth-Alcorn Parks & Recreation Director Ray Holloway.
It is also a balancing act between local recreation and the bigger events that drive economic benefits for local businesses and the city.
“We work for our constituents, so your recreation leagues are our top priority,” he said. “Your tournaments are secondary. However, tournaments are the ones that adds to the economic impact. About 30 percent of our budget is pretty much based on ‘heads in beds,’ which assist with our in-house budget needs.”
When the expansion was planned, the addition of fields was touted as an economic benefit to the community.
“Sports will help fill our hotels during the weekend when our occupancy rates are low,” said Tourism Director Christy Burns. “We are excited about working with Ray to bring in more tournaments to Corinth in the near future.”
Several notable tournaments are on the calendar for the spring and summer. Holloway expects more than 50 teams for the May 12-14 USSSA baseball AA qualifier for ages 7 to 14, which will be co-hosted with Booneville. It is followed the next weekend by a USSSA baseball world series qualifier.
The summer includes a couple of state championships — the Babe Ruth baseball ages 13/14 on July 6-9 and the USA/USFA fast class pitch B and C on June 30-July 2.
Holloway said tournaments at this level are the ultimate goal, bringing the bigger economic boost.
“Your C series is based on all-star play, which comes from your recreational leagues,” said Holloway. “USFA is really your tournament ball play, so we’re going to be hosting both tournaments at the same time. This is something USA and USFA have teamed up with to help assist both recreational play and tournament play, which has been in the making for several years. Our complex is the first to bring both organizations together.”
The park also has the USFA National Invitational Tournament June 23-25 and the MRPA softball North Mississippi Spring Classic on April 29-30.
The park bid on the Mississippi Soccer Association north district soccer tournament for 2017 and didn’t get it, but Holloway said it has unofficially been awarded to Corinth for 2018. That tournament will bring in about 60 teams and requires 11 fields. Some of the baseball outfields will be set up for soccer to provide enough fields.
Coordination among the region’s parks is part of the challenge in building a schedule.
“Whether they participate in the same sanctioning body we do or not doesn’t really make any difference,” said Holloway. “It’s all about staying away from your sister city’s weekends and respecting that. If you go into war with them, instead of having 20 teams, you’re going to split 10 over there and 10 over here.”
Communication among the region’s park leaders is frequent.
“It is very important for us to all be on the same page since we all strive to provide the same services,” he said