Population figures: City of Winchester - 26,203; Frederick County - 78,305; Clarke County - 14,034; Warren County - 37,575; Hardy County, WV - 14,205 and Hampshire County, WV - 23,964Winchester welcomes Cal Ripken World Series
August 6, 2011
By Vic Bradshaw
The Winchester Star
The world - or at least the Cal Ripken 10-year-old baseball world - comes to town next week.
Eight youth baseball teams from across America will join state host Glen Allen and local host Winchester for the 2011 Cal Ripken 10-Year-Old World Series.
The 10-team tournament, which has taken about two years to plan and stage, begins next Saturday with round-robin pool play and ends Aug. 20 with the championship game.
Brad Veach, Winchester's Parks and Recreation Department director, said the decision to pursue hosting the tournament was an easy one.
"I think any time you can bring an event into the community that showcases your community - but also has a very positive economic impact - it's always a good thing," he said.
The department's history of successfully hosting tournaments, combined with the efforts of Winchester Baseball, went a long way toward convincing the Babe Ruth League - which governs Cal Ripken baseball - that Winchester would be a good host site.
The opportunity to be the World Series host also is a major event for Winchester Baseball. The local team is automatically entered in the tournament, but the benefits go beyond that.
Winchester Baseball President Bob Brown said hosting the series increases the profile of the program and could boost participation.
He said 700 to 800 children aged 4 to 15 take part in Winchester Baseball. The majority of those youngsters are from the city and Frederick County, though some come from neighboring areas that do not offer Cal Ripken or Babe Ruth ball.
"I think [hosting the series] speaks volumes for the quality of our program and the quality of baseball in the area," Brown said. "I think it will be a real plus for baseball in general in our area."
Veach said the parks department staff is working on in-game promotions and other activities that should create "a very festive atmosphere."
He believes games with visiting teams will draw a few hundred people. But when Winchester Baseball plays, he's expecting the 800 to 1,000 fans to pack the stands.
Robert P. Faherty Jr., vice president and commissioner of the Babe Ruth League, said the Cal Ripken qualifying method of bringing in teams from eight regions country means visitors from around America will have a chance to visit the northern Shenandoah Valley.
"It's not just eight teams from California that are participating," he said. "They're from the south and northeast, the north and west, all over.
"Right away, you kind of sense that we're bringing the whole world to Winchester."A costly endeavor
The World Series, however, doesn't come cheap.
Veach said he is on pace to spend about $218,000 to operate the tournament. That includes the $45,000 paid to the Babe Ruth organization for the contract.
Another $60,600 in capital expenditures went toward upgrades at Yost Field, some of which Veach said would have been needed soon regardless.
Field lighting was added, the diamond was regraded and resodded, backstops and fences were repaired, the press box was painted and carpeted, the scoreboard was replaced, and walking trails were resurfaced.
Veach said local businesses stand to benefit from about $200,000 of the tournament's expenses. But the business community has given back, too, contributing $159,872 in goods, services or cash toward the event.
"In recent weeks, a number of sponsors have come up and said, 'Hey, we want to do something,'" Veach said. "Some of those sponsors are ones we talked to a year ago, and they said they weren't ready to make a commitment yet.
"But they've seen [series coverage and advertisements] in the newspaper, they've seen it on TV, they've seen it on the sides of the streets - all the advertisement and all the buzz about the World Series - and they're like, 'Hey, we need to get involved in this.'"
Some of the series donations were made for items or services the event needed, which eliminated an expense. Some donations will be sold at concession stands.
Others will be used as prizes to lure people to buy tickets for the Chik-fil-A "cow drop;" the money from that event will be used to defray series expenses.
If revenue projections from items such as ticket, souvenir and concession sales are reached, Veach said, he thinks the tournament will net about $30,000 for the parks department.
He said he expects to more than break even, and because he budgeted conservatively, the surplus could be greater.
"Our goal wasn't to make a lot of money," he said, "but we didn't want to take a loss."
Veach, however, had to refine his proposal considerably and promise to cover any losses with department funds before the City Council would allow him to seek the contract.
His initial pitch required an investment from the city; his final plan called for the department to borrow $75,000 from its reserves and repay that amount when the tournament concluded.
The councilor who pushed him most regarding spending was Art Major, the panel's vice president. He said he was sold on the event, but didn't want to see a lot of tax dollars directed toward it.
"I always had confidence that this event would be good for the city of Winchester," Major said. "I made my comment [about covering shortfalls] to make sure Brad felt confident that his financial projections were accurate and he could back them up,"
Major said he thought it was great that the city government could use reserve funds for seed money and repay them.Business involvement
Support from the business community for such an event is crucial, and Veach's sponsorship sheet includes 58 organizations, the vast majority of them local.
Chuck Guffee, owner/operator of the two Chik-fil-A franchises in Winchester and Frederick County, said he called Veach when he heard the series was coming and wanted to help.
The cow drop, which features prizes ranging from a Caribbean cruise for two to football and movie tickets, along with the fireworks will help to cap Friday's Opening Ceremonies.
The company contributed $3,500 in cash and provided an in-kind contribution valued at $4,000.
"We thought this would be a big event and something we could get involved in pretty easily," Guffee said. "We wanted to have our name associated with it."
The restaurant will sell chicken sandwiches and other edibles at the field, but Guffee also expects to get business at his stores.
Cork Street Tavern came aboard late, donating $500 in gift certificates. Chris Bennett, the downtown restaurant's kitchen manager, said the importance of youth sports to a community is one of the reasons they became involved.
"I know a lot of kids came up through [the Winchester Baseball] program," he said. "Youth sports has really helped a lot of kids."
The exposure, Bennett said, also might help the independent restaurant compete for business with the national chains all visitors will know.
But not all sponsors are likely to see their bottom line enhanced by their participation.
Major - who aside from his City Council duties is president of GearClean Inc. - donated $7,500 to sponsor the opening banquet. His company cleans some athletic uniforms - but not the type the ballplayers will wear - and other segments of the business will not be affected directly.
"I love Winchester," he said, "and I want to support what's good for our city. What's good for our citizens is good for me."
Major said he thinks the banquet and ballgames will be fun, so it was "easy to get behind it."
Overall, he said, it's good to have GearClean associated with such an event.American tradition
What those sponsors have invested in is a link to Babe Ruth baseball, which has been a part of the American landscape for 60 years.
Girls' softball was added to its offerings along the way.
In 2000, the organization's 4- to 12-year-old age group in was renamed Cal Ripken Baseball.
Faherty, the Babe Ruth commissioner, said the move was made to honor the entire Ripken family - Cal Sr., who coached and managed the Baltimore Orioles; his son Cal Jr., the Hall-of-Fame shortstop who retired in 2001 after 21 years with the Orioles and is best known for playing a Major League record 2,632 consecutive games; and his other son Billy Ripken, who played for four teams during his 12-year Major League career.
The 10-year-old baseball division is the youngest for which a World Series is held.Economic boost
Even using very conservative estimates, the tournament's economic impact on the area quickly becomes obvious.
If each visiting-team family consists of three people, and they spend an average of $10 each on three meals a day. That's $90 spent at local restaurants.
Add the $105 average room rate Veach calculated from team host hotels and the daily per-family spending on lodging and meals alone is $195.
Assuming the average number of families per team is 15 (hotels reserved 20 rooms per team, and Glen Allen, the first out-of-the-area qualifier, booked 25 rooms) team spending could reach $2,925 per day - and multiplying that by nine teams means a daily outlay of $26,325 on meals and lodging alone.
Veach said Babe Ruth officials say the average length of stay is 9.7 days. Factoring that into the equation, the visiting teams should spend a minimum of $255,352.50 locally before they have paid to clean the first uniform or made any gas, entertainment, souvenir or other purchases.
Add more families and/or people per family to the equation, toss in coaches and umpires, consume more than $30 in food and beverages per day and the numbers climb.
For example, an average of 20 families per team boosts minimum local spending to $340,470 for the tournament, and if those 20 families spend an average of $12 per person per meal, the figure climbs to nearly $371,898.
Such spending will translate into thousands of dollars in sales-, meals- and lodging-tax collections for Winchester and Frederick County.
Veach said he thinks series visitor spending likely will total about $286 per day. He said that monetary influx, plus the money spent with local businesses on tournament preparation, should place the local economic impact of the event between $500,000 and $1 million."A substantial boost"
Three Aikens Group properties - the Hilton Garden Inn, the Hampton Inn Conference Center on Berryville Avenue, and the Fairfield Inn & Suites on Front Royal Pike (U.S. 522) - are set to benefit from the tournament.
Jason Aikens, the company's vice president, said the hotels would have filled up several of the tournament nights on their own. The value of booking the teams comes from the extra room sales on normally low-occupancy nights and from exposure.
Hotels with a coin laundry will benefit from regular use by the ballplayers and their families. Visitors also will purchase other incidentals, and full-service properties will see extra food and beverage revenue.
Aikens and Min Lee, the director of sales for the team-host hotels Aloft and the Wingate Inn, said their owners are very supportive of community activities such as the series. Some properties sold rooms at below their regular rate, and Lee said team hotels are required to provide complimentary rooms to two coaches.
Aikens said employees at his company's three hotels are looking forward to the event.
"It's going to be a good week," he said. "I'm glad to see the City of Winchester bring this event to the area. It's going to be a substantial boost to the local economy."Lasting effects
While the visiting teams will pack up and leave about 10 days after they arrive, the tournament's effects will linger.
Sally Coates, tourism director for Winchester and Frederick County, said visitors who have a good experience in the area will spread the word about the community and perhaps make a return trip.
The improvements to Yost Field will not go away when the series ends. Area youths will benefit from the enhanced facilities for years to come.
But the real benefits are the possibilities. Faherty, the Babe Ruth commissioner, said last month that he could see Winchester having the opportunity to host another World Series a few years from now.
Veach said he hopes a successful tournament will evolve into more park use for similar events. Work to add two multi-purpose areas at Preston Field provides a new opportunity, along with the existing pools, gymnasium, BMX track, disc golf course and other amenities.
To help accomplish that, Veach has started marketing Winchester and Jim Barnett Park in Sports Destination Management magazine.
"We're definitely moving in the right direction when it comes to bringing tourism dollars into the community," he said. "I want to see the Winchester Parks and Recreation Department become a destination for sports events."
Even if that's not accomplished, Veach said, he thinks the World Series will continue to pay dividends. The 58 tournament sponsors sank their dollars into the park, and he hopes they will benefit from it and continue to do so.
"This is getting local businesses back into the park," he said. "That's important for down the road."
- Contact Vic Bradshaw
at email@example.comHundreds of volunteers work to coordinate baseball tournament
August 6, 2011
By Vic Bradshaw
The Winchester Star
WINCHESTER- If you go to Jim Barnett Park to see a game at the 2011 Cal Ripken 10-Year-Old World Series or other related festivities, you may have little idea about what it took to make the event possible.
Park staff members and more than 200 volunteers - many of them Winchester Baseball alumni or the parents of current or former players - have worked thousands of hours to prepare for the baseball tournament.
Additionally, dozens of volunteers will be on-site each day to do everything from selling concessions and souvenirs to cleaning bathrooms.
"Their involvement is the cornerstone. The volunteers are what make or break this event because I couldn't do it with park staff," said Brad Veach, the city's parks and recreation director and the host for the event. "Winchester Baseball had to be part of it, and a lot of the volunteer efforts have come from their organization."
Natalie Loudan knows more than most people about the work needed to piece the series together.
A member of the event's Executive Committee, she focused on the personnel needed for banquets and other special meals, the Opening Ceremonies, team ambassadors and liaison families, concessions and bat boys.
The work amounted to a part-time job. She said she has spent around 20 hours a week on the World Series for about the last 18 months.
"There's 250-plus people working behind the scenes," said Loudan, who lives near Stephens City. "That doesn't count the 50 volunteers needed per day to pull off the event."
She is on Winchester Baseball's board of directors even though her children - Taylor, 16, and Andrew, 14 - are no longer involved in the league.
Loudan said she decided to take such a big role in series preparations because she had seen the good and bad at four Southeast Regional tournaments and thought her perspective as a parent could prove valuable.Business support
Jack Drumheller also had something valuable to bring to the table - he knows many area business leaders and wasn't shy about asking them for money.
The Clear Brook resident spent about two months helping to secure World Series sponsors. That involved meeting with business owners and asking them to donate $500 or more in a weak economy.
As a child living in Winchester, the 55-year-old played youth baseball. When he was in college, he umpired. When his son played, he managed.
Drumheller said he had some extra time because he is between jobs and decided to honor his ties to Winchester Baseball and put his skills to use and help the area.
"I see this as a real community opportunity," he said of the series. "I think it's a chance for Winchester-Frederick County to showcase itself, and people might like it so much they might come back."
Drumheller, who has a background in sales and has done fundraising for other groups, said businesses received him positively, though not all could contribute."A great event"
While Drumheller helped on the financial side, Kelly Timbrook focused on two linchpin events - Friday's Banquet of Champions and the Opening Ceremonies.
She volunteered to lead the committee, but said all 10 members have contributed equally.
Timbrook's 11-year-old son Ricky plays in the Winchester Baseball league, but is not on the local team acting as the series host.
Still, she has spent a good number of hours helping to organize Friday's festivities, plans to juggle her work schedule to help with the final preparations, and intends to work at concession areas during the tournament.
"It's a great event," said Timbrook, a Frederick County resident. "The whole [Winchester Baseball] organization is participating.""A whole community"
In early July, Veach said, he was "really worried" about whether he would have enough volunteers.
Since then, several area civic groups and Handley High School athletes have pledged to help.
"People from all walks of life are just wanting to get involved to say they were part of this event," he said, "because they think it is something special that Winchester is able to host this series."
Among the civic groups signed on to help is the Winchester Host Lions Club.
Steve Baker, the organization's second vice president, said it is natural for the group to be involved with the World Series. The club, he said, is one of four groups or businesses who sponsored the city's first youth baseball teams, and that tradition has been carried on for about 60 years.
Tradition, it appears, is standard for the Lions. Baker noted that the club has organized the Grand Feature Parade at the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival for more than 70 years.
"[The series] is another way we can help the community and put a face on some of the activities we're involved with," he said.
Baker, who also serves as the treasurer for Winchester Baseball, said about a dozen of the Lions' 70 members have signed up to help with the series, and he hopes some gentle tail-twisting will get more involved.
Fittingly, the World Series festivities begin Tuesday with the Volunteers Banquet in recognition of their contributions .
"It takes a whole community," Timbrook said, "to make something like this work."
- Contact Vic Bradshaw