Baseball competition allowed Picayune to show its tourism sidePublished 7:00am Tuesday, June 10, 2014
This weekend close to 100 youth baseball teams and their families brought their tourism dollars to Picayune.
City of Picayune Parks Director Heath Stevens said the Gulf South United States Specialty Sports Association Firecracker Classic National Invitational Tournament attracted a lot of people.
“I’ve never seen that many people around Friendship Park at one time,” Stevens said.
Some visitors Stevens talked to described Picayune as an easy and quiet town, and that their visit was almost like a mini vacation.
While there were some minor complaints, such as some issues with the fields, Stevens said the event was a success for an event that size.
“I think we established ourselves as a destination spot for these events,” Stevens said.
In all, 93 teams were in town over the weekend, and city crews were working hard to ensure things went smoothly. During those two days park employees didn’t leave for home until 1 a.m., Stevens said.
One snag Stevens would like to work on before the next event is establishing better communication with local businesses. Stevens said the city intends to alert businesses when such a large event is planned, so the business can prepare. Preparations would include ordering extra food to ensure customer demand can be met.
With only a month to prepare, and rain soaking the fields for about two weeks leading up to the tournament, Stevens felt the they got the fields as ready as they could in the time they had.
City Operations Director Harvey Miller said city crews only had a week to get all eight fields ready due to the rain.
The event was a money maker. Collected gate fees helped pay for the park rental while concessions brought in enough funds the league can use to fund next year’s games and all star teams, Stevens said.
“Nobody lost any money, that’s for sure,” Stevens said.
Mayor Ed Pinero Jr., said the convenience stores also received a lot of business while local eateries such as Applebees and Fatty’s stayed busy.
“Everywhere I went they were packed,” Pinero said.
The event was so successful the league director told Stevens that they plan to return next year, and Stevens said he is already working on booking sister tournaments with the organization.
“It was kind of a test he put us under and I think we passed with flying colors,” Stevens said.
Miller said several city council members talked with business owners to see how things were going on their end. Council members Tammy Valente and Janice Miller Stevens reported hotels and restaurants were busy.