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Sporting event expected to boost county's economy

While youthful players, pitch, hit, and catch baseballs, during a youth baseball tournament in Henry County next month, parks and recreation officials, along with those at the Chamber of Commerce, will expecting the county to reap an economic boost.

Taking into account meals, hotel stays, fuel, shopping and entertainment, the United States Sports Specialty Association's (USSSA) sponsored baseball games, could generate $1.4 million in revenues, according to Melissa Robinson, Henry County's communications writer.

The event is expected to include 55 to 60 youth baseball teams from all over the United States, Puerto Rico, and possibly, Canada, said Matt Trebuchon, of neighboring Peachtree City, who is USSSA's state director. The teams will include youngsters 6, and under, to those 8 eight, and under, said Trebuchon.

"Each tournament is very different in the teams it attracts, where the teams are from, how long it lasts, and the number of teams it brings," said Laura Luker, director of tourism and communications for the Henry County Chamber of Commerce. "But, for illustration purposes, if 100 teams came for a weekend tournament –– two hotel nights –– the county could see an estimated economic impact of $2,187,500."

The USSSA will host its Junior World Series July 5-12. The games will be played at Heritage Park in McDonough, and J.P. Moseley Park in Stockbridge, according to Robinson.

In a sluggish economy, the dollars spent in Henry County by out-of-towners during the sporting events makes for a positive difference, Luker said. In 2007, Luker continued, tourism was responsible for $176.75 million being spent in Henry County.

"It could be as simple as people coming in from the interstate, stopping and having dinner, then driving on, to as extensive as 200 teams coming in for a tournament," she added.

Henry County Director of Parks and Recreation Tim Coley said sports promoters have told him they like coming to the county. "We work hard to bring tournaments to the area," said Coley. "We bid on hosting tournaments, and these events generate a lot of revenue for the county. The county has put a lot of money into the parks and recreation facilities, and it's a win-win for everyone. The citizens have much nicer facilities to use and play on, and it also makes our facilities more attractive to bring in tournaments.

"Henry County is centrally located and easy to get to from I-75, and there are enough hotel rooms to accommodate large tournaments with out-of-town teams," he said.

Last month, Henry County hosted the Seventh Annual Atlanta Peach Classic Soccer Tournament, featuring 150 teams from five southeastern states. Those participating rented more than 600 rooms for the night, and spent money on meals, shopping, and entertainment during the two-day event, said Robinson.

The soccer complex at Mount Carmel Park in Hampton is undergoing an expansion project designed to add 10 new soccer fields, and a new concession stand to the facility, said Robinson.

The complex will then cover approximately 43 acres, including an additional 400 paved parking spaces and nearly 350 grass parking spaces. The expansion project will enable Henry County to attract events and soccer tournaments, such as the Georgia Cup, generating additional tourism revenue, added Robinson.