The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

July 5, 2014

Big crowds expected for softball tourney; Athens' hotels are full

— Bases are loaded, so to speak, at Athens hotels the weekend of July 11-13.

Hotel rooms are booked because the city is hosting the Alabama Recreation and Parks Association State Softball Tournament for children age 8 and under, 10 and under and 12 and under, said Athens-Limestone Tourism Director Teresa Todd.

The tourism association has assisted with lodging because more than 350 people are expected for the event, Todd said.

Recreation Director Ben Wiley said 27 teams have registered for the double elimination tournament that will be held at the Sportsplex on U.S. 31 near the Interstate 65 exit.

“I think this will be a great event for the city of Athens,” Wiley said. “There will be teams from all over the state here with us for the weekend. We have received support from the Mayor’s Office and our local business community to make this a successful event.”

“We are so thrilled to have these families come to Athens and see what we have to offer,” Todd said. “When girls come for tournaments like these, they like to go out into the area and shop. Just last week, I took brochure holders for Parks and Recreation to place on the ball fields to let our visitors know what we have for them. I want all of our guests to know we are so glad to have them in our community, and we welcome them to shop, dine, stay and play with us.”

Wiley said the city had to meet the specifications for field space and facility needs to have a winning bid for the tournament. The community support will help Athens lure future tournaments, he said. The National Guard is providing moon bounces and agility games and will bring a Hummer to display.

“They are providing their own volunteers to offer these activities for the teams and fans,” Wiley said.

Applebee’s, Ronnie Dukes and Pepsi, Bojangles’, Chick-fil-A, Logan’s and Wendy’s are also sponsoring the event.

The opening ceremony will start at 6 p.m. Friday, July 11, with Mayor Ronnie Marks throwing the first pitch.

“These young ladies are very talented, and I expect to see some competitive games,” Marks said. “Promoting activities for the youth and exposing visitors to our city are the advantages to hosting these tournaments. Money will be spent in our community, and, perhaps, many will return to visit Athens again.”

In addition, the city’s Information Technology Department has successfully added Wi-Fi at the Sportsplex. IT Director Dale Haymon said the Wi-Fi has been working well the past week, and even without publicizing its availability until now, it has already had hundreds of users.

In June, the Athens City Council approved spending $6,675 for five outdoor wireless access points, service agreements, mounting hardware and cables to establish wireless fidelity, or Wi-Fi, access points at the Sportsplex.

“We have had requests to provide Wi-Fi so that people can upload stats, photos and scores and so that people can have access to the Internet while enjoying our facilities at the Sportsplex,” Marks said.

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