By JUSTIN RAINS and BRYAN URBACH
What has been a banner year for the Palestine Youth Athletic Association baseball and softball leagues got quite the cherry on top this past week.
The PYAA, in conjunction with the city, wrapped up hosting the Dixie League coach pitch state tournament at the PYAA complex, an event that brought an estimated 2,500 visitors into Palestine and, in turn, the area’s hotels, restaurants and attractions.
“Throughout the tournament, we were able to fill up most of the hotels in the area,” PYAA commissioner Lamone Reece said. “Also, I know just from going to the local restaurants, that they were all full almost every night. There were always kids and moms and dads there after the games whenever I went in there.”
Bringing the tournament was the brainchild of Carroll Sigman, a local hotel owner and member of the Palestine Hospitality Association. He said he knew what it would do for the local economy to get it here.
So, he got with Reece and the PYAA put a bid in to host a tournament, a bid that was accepted.
All that was left after that was getting the complex in the kind of shape that gave off a good impression.
The city used $7,500 of hotel tax revenue to help fund renovation projects around the complex, footing more than half of what Reece said was a $13,500 bill to get the complex ready for the tournament.
But, those investments paid off.
“We won’t know for sure for another two weeks or so...but I think it’s going to work out to a $1 million economic impact, because of the local teams not spending as much,” Sigman said.
That’s down a bit from his $1.25 million projection before the tournament, but still a great showing for Palestine.
The complex also gained rave revues during the event.
“On a scale of zero to 10, people were rating it around an eight based on the types of facilities that they had seen in the past,” Sigman said. “By and large, these people were gentlemanly and ladylike. The moms and dads really just knew that it was more about the kids.”
Overall, Reece said, 22 teams came to the tournament, which was broken down into “small school” and “big school” divisions.
“This tournament was definitely a good thing,” Reece said. “We’re looking at going to try to do this every year, provided if the numbers and all of that line up right.”
ON FIELD SUCCESS THRIVING
Putting on tournaments isn’t the only thing the PYAA seems to be great at these days. They also can put strong products on the field.
Between the boys and girls programs, eight of the PYAA’s local youth teams will advance to state tournaments in their respective age groups, with four girls team sets to compete next weekend.
The 8-and-under team won the district tournament in Fairfield by a combined score of 32-7 to advance to its state tournament, set to begin July 19 in Sulphur Springs.
Also advancing were the 10-and-under and 12-and-under teams after winning their respective district tournaments, as well as the 15-and-under team, who were automatically advanced.
That quartet of teams follows a quartet of boys teams to advance to their own state tournaments.
One of those teams, the Palestine Outlaws, almost made a run at advancing even further, but saw that run end at the hands of Splendora in extra innings Wednesday. It ended the age-group’s first state tournament run since 2004.
Two girls’ t-ball teams — the Prima Donnas and the All-Stars — finished as co-runners up at their district tournament, just missing a state tournament spot.
“The Palestine Youth Athletic Association has been working hand and hand with the City of Palestine and the Parks and Recreation department on improvements to the Palestine Athletic Complex for all young people to have a nice place to play baseball and softball in Palestine,” PYAA girls secretary Christal Russell said. “The hard work is paying off with hard working new board members this year and the great communication and support we have developed with the City of Palestine.”
Sports editor Bryan Urbach can be reached via email at email@example.com