on May 1, 2008 by in Uncategorized, Comments (0)

Preparations continue for Dixie Youth Baseball Tournament

CLEMSON — Organizers for the first Dixie Youth Baseball Tournament at Nettles Park, slated for July 19-24, said they are nearly 80 percent through making preparations for the event.

“We’re still finishing up some of the activities the teams will be able to do when they’re not playing,” Central Recreation Director Tom Cloer said. He, along with Clemson Parks and Recreation Director Steve Figueroa, is guiding a committee in efforts to coordinate the event.

“For example, one day the teams will get a tour of the academic facilities at Clemson and another day, we’re working on trying to get the teams over to watch the Greenville Drive,” Cloer said. “Slowly, but surely, it’s coming together.”

Last September, Cloer and Figueroa announced during a joint news conference that Nettles Park had landed the host position of the 2008 tournament. About 12 teams, including a host team from the Central-Clemson area, will compete for the state title with the winner advancing to the Dixie Youth World Series.

The two recreation directors made a pitch for the tournament to be played in the area during the state Dixie Youth meeting held the previous February, in which two other leagues also submitted bids. Each league in South Carolina is allowed a vote in deciding which league hosts the tournament.

“More than 150 leagues voted on the host, and Central-Clemson received the most votes,” Figueroa said. “The state organization sets up the tournament schedule, meaning that we will host, not direct the tournament.”

The games will be played on two Nettles Park ball fields in the final stages of construction.

The cost of admission will be $5 for adults, $4 for youth and free of charge for ages 6 and younger. A dollar from each admission will go to the Dixie Youth Scholarship Fund and players who have played in the league or Dixie Youth will be eligible to apply for scholarships.

A third field will be used as a food vendor area and kid zone.

In preparation for the double-elimination tournament, workers are busy installing sand on the fields and completing sidewalks. Stadium seats, as well as a public address system, are being installed at each of the fields and a paved parking lot is also among the improvements.

The ball field dimensions are 200 feet from home plate to the outfield, which features a 6-foot high fence with yellow safety tubing. The bullpen area is located next to the 30-foot-by-8 foot dugout to allow pitchers or position players to warm up.

Figueroa said each field contains a seating capacity of 500, adding that most individuals will bring folding or camping chairs in which to sit.

Cloer said volunteers are being sought to man the admission areas and concession stands.

“We will start putting these committees together, and it will take quite a few volunteers,” Cloer said. “It’s going to require a lot of people.”

But the event involves more than just the games themselves. Cloer said committee members have dealt with tasks ranging from the opening ceremony to possibly securing a military flyover for the National Anthem.

In addition, Cloer said the Central Area Business Council and Clemson Area Chamber of Commerce are distributing packets to the winners of each region once they are determined.

“They will contain maps, places to eat, places to stay and places to visit,” Cloer said.

Cloer said an order has also been placed for tournament banners to be displayed in the Clemson and Central areas either by late May or early June.

Sponsorships are another vital element, as Cloer said that Central Recreation Department Athletic Director Jason Crawford is presently working with local businesses.

Figueroa said the $15,000 budget for the tournament, the bulk of which will come from Clemson’s Hospitality Tax as well as advertising and sponsorships, includes paying umpires selected through a reward system, a team banquet and other expenses. But considering the number of visitors that will travel to the Clemson and Central areas — staying in motels, eating in restaurants and shopping at various stores — Cloer said the economic impact stands to be anywhere from $15,000-$20,000 for the first two days of lodging and food alone.

Cloer believes the collaborative efforts of Clemson and Central will result in a Dixie Youth tournament second to none.

“Steve Figueroa, Dave Geer and his crew have done a great job of getting the fields ready, bringing them back to playing level,” he said. “I feel that when the tournament comes, they’re going to be top-notch.”