Youth baseball will once again take center stage in Dunn this summer with two tournaments featuring teams from around the state expected to bring thousands of young people, their families and fans to the area in July.
According to Carolyn Elmore, with the Dunn Parks and Recreation Department Booster Club, the Dixie Youth Baseball AAA State championship tournament will be held at Dunn’s Tyler Park from July 6-12.
During the same period six to eight teams in a 12 and under tournament for small towns will also be playing in a tournament.
Dunn was awarded the tournaments by the Dixie Youth organization earlier this year.
Ms. Elmore said that at the height of the competition there will be 22 teams in the area during the week of July 6-12
That number will reduce as teams are eliminated from the tournament, but some teams will stay in the area throughout the week.
It is estimated that of the teams participating close to half will stay in local motels, with other teams commuting to the fields from their hometowns.
Dunn has hosted tournaments before but this year’s invasion of baseball enthusiasts will be the largest.
“We’ve never tried two tournaments at the same time,” Ms. Elmore said. “It is going to be a lot of work.”
The games will all be held at the Nathan Harris Athletic Complex at Tyler Park.
The tournaments are much more than actual games for those in charge of organizing the tournaments. Each host town is required to host an opening ceremony for all the teams participating.
The pre-tournament festivities include two meals that have to be prepared. One meal will be provided for players and families and the other meal will be provided for coaches, officials and umpires. Dunn’s Bleecker Automotive has committed to help pay for meals.
Ms. Elmore expects the town to feel the economic boom of having the tournaments in town.
“It is going to be good for all our restaurants and businesses,” Ms. Elmore said.
Ms. Elmore did not discuss contract details, but said after expenses are paid the booster club will profit from ticket and merchandise sales. The booster club pays Dixie Youth a fee for the event and the organization then takes care of details and other expenses that are part of the tournament.
“We will be able to make a profit when it’s all over,” Ms. Elmore said.
All profits from the tournaments will be put back into the local parks and recreation program.
Hosting the teams is a community effort. Local churches will assist with worship services for the players. Local tourism officials will look for ways to entertain the players when they aren’t on the fields.
“That is hard, you have to find something for them to do where they can’t get injured,” Ms. Elmore said.
Other towns in North Carolina will also host tournaments this summer.
The town of Lockwood Folly in Brunswick will host AA Coach Pitch state tournament. The state Major League competition will be hosted in Stanley and the Ozone level tournament will be held in Eden.
Ozone is a league open to 11 and 12 years old. The rules in the division have been more adopted to Major League style to help participants prepare for travel baseball.