Martin County Will Host The Entire Babe Ruth League World Series Of Softball In 2016, And That's Only The Start
After Jensen Beach hosted a World Series of Softball tournament last summer, the Babe Ruth League is coming back for more. Much more.
The entirety of the Babe Ruth League Softball World Series will be hosted in Martin County in 2016—the first time it is not being held across several cities split up according to age group.
Babe Ruth League representatives made the announcement Friday morning at Pineapple Park in Jensen Beach, one of the locations that will host World Series games. The other announced park is Halpatiokee Regional Park in Stuart.
The youth sporting event is set to take place in Martin County July 28 through Aug. 11, featuring all five age groups—ages 8 through 16—and the Treasure Coast Athletic Association will have a host team in each age group. The Treasure Coast's nature as a vacation destination was a big draw.
"[O]ur teams and their families will be able to experience Martin County and the Treasure Coast and enjoy a vacation during a World Series—an opportunity they’ve never had in the past," Babe Ruth League Commissioner Rob Connor said in a press release.
The World Series of Softball was first brought to Jensen Beach this past year—thanks to the suggestion of local softball star Jessica Cusimano—when it hosted the tournament for 16 year olds in August, and the Babe Ruth League couldn't get enough of Martin County. The league was particularly impressed with the Treasure Coast Athletic Association's organizational abilities and volunteer base, according to Connor, and felt that TCAA would be equipped to host the entire World Series this time.
"You're basically taking five events and putting into now one," he said. "The [selected location] has to be able to organize and fundraise everything necessary to pull it off."
According to Connor, the Babe Ruth League has committed to keeping the World Series in Martin County for the next three years, with an option of up to six years.
"We really like staying in the same location," he said.
The Treasure Coast typically experiences a lull in the summer months, but with close to 6,000 hotel room nights estimated to be booked by teams and their families during the two-and-a-half week competition, the World Series is expected to provide an economic impact of $5 million to $6 million.
The Marriott Hutchinson Island and Stuart's Hampton Inn and Courtyard by Marriott will be a few of the hotel partners with rooms available during the tournament.
TCAA President Mike Cusimano (Jessica's father) expects the young athletes in town to enjoy their Treasure Coast vacation. For example, last year, the visiting softball players had a contest to see which team spent the most amount of time at the beach, he said.
"A lot of these athletes are used to traveling to Middle America … what we call cow-pasture tournaments. They'll be out in the hot sun all day, take a shower, go to bed, wake up, repeat," he said. "Here, we have a sense of community. They go out."
According to Cusimano, Martin County Parks and Recreation invested about $90,000 into revamping Pineapple Park for the 16 age group tournament in August, and additional improvements can likely be expected at the other parks.