PLAINFIELD, IN (April 30, 2014) - When Plainfield town leaders and the Plainfield Optimist Club partnered to build a youth sports facility, they had their eyes on one particular event that would draw thousands of visitors and significantly impact the local economy.
That particular goal will finally be realized this summer after Plainfield's Al & Jan Barker Sports Complex was recently chosen as the host site for the 2014 Little League Major Boys State Tournament to be held July 19-24.
"It was never a guarantee (that we would land this tournament) though it was a goal for everyone involved in building this complex," said Parke Lucas, president of the Plainfield Optimist Baseball League. "We knew we needed to go after this hard because it is the most prominent tournament in the state."
This will mark the first time ever the tournament, which dates back to 1957 and is expected to draw anywhere from 3,500-5,000 spectators in addition to the 14 teams, will be hosted in Hendricks County. The winner of the tournament, which is free and open to the public, will represent Indiana in the Great Lakes regional tournament on the east side of Indianapolis. The winner of the Great Lakes regional tournament earns a birth to the Little League World Series held annually in Williamsport, Pa., and televised nationally on ESPN & ABC.
Mark Commons, Little League's District 8 Administrator, said Plainfield was chosen to host this year's state tournament because of the quality of the facility, the ability to play four games at once and having the Splash Island Family Waterpark nearby to provide a destination for visiting families. Brownsburg also submitted a bid for the tournament which is rotated annually in each of the 14 districts in Indiana.
The Al & Jan Barker Sports Complex, 451 S. Vestal Road, opened in 2011 and hosted the Little League 11-year-old state tournament that year. The 58-acre facility has become a premier site for youth sports with four Little League regulation baseball fields, three football fields, up to 17 soccer fields and will soon be home to the Miracle Field, a synthetic, handicap-accessible baseball field currently under construction and set to open this fall.
"The Plainfield (Optimist) organization has put together a group of individuals who understand baseball and family needs that will make it an enjoyable and fun experience for the players, their families and any other baseball fans who want to see quality baseball at an affordable price," Commons said. "They fulfilled all of our expectations."
Visit Hendricks County has partnered with Plainfield by helping secure hotel rooms and providing visitor information for the teams and families while they're in town. Sports events not only create economic impact, they encourage physical activity and promote better health. They enhance a community's image and improve the overall quality of life for residents and visitors.
"This is a significant accomplishment to have this event in Hendricks County," said Jaime Bohler Smith, executive director of Visit Hendricks County. "Increasing our involvement with sports tourism is a goal of Visit Hendricks County, so events like these showcase the economic impact sports tourism can have on our businesses and attractions when they come to town."
While economic impact numbers for a youth sports tournament are hard to come by with so many factors still yet to be determined such as how many qualifying teams will stay overnight, the significance of such a tournament will be felt.
In a 2011 Economic Impact of Travel and Tourism for Hendricks County Study conducted by Certec, Inc. out of Lexington, KY, an average of $88.85 a day was spent per visitor for lodging, shopping, food and other expenditures.
The Hendricks County Tourism Commission d/b/a Visit Hendricks County attracts visitors to the county by promoting and developing tourism, which stimulates economic growth and enhances quality of life. Find us on Facebook at Facebook.com/VisitHendricksCounty and become a fan for updates and reminders, contest info and much more. You can also follow us on Twitter @HendricksCounty or get updates by following or subscribing to our tourism blog at TourHendricksCounty.com/blog. For more information, visit our website at TourHendricksCounty.com or call (317) 718-8750.