More than 140 baseball teams rotated through Auburndale’s Lake Myrtle Sports Park by the middle of July, thanks to Polk County Tourism and Sports Marketing’s relationship building with and tenacious recruiting of the Wilson Premier Championship West event.
“This brought the best-of-the-best out to Auburndale to be showcased,” said Josh Hicks, a sales and events representative for PCTSM. “These kids are from the high school graduating class of 2021 to the class of 2019, and you can bet that someone you see here you’ll see on a Major League field soon enough.”
And while some teams came from as nearby as Tampa, the majority of teams traveled at least hours – many days – to get here. For example, Norcall Baseball 2021 comes from Pleasanton, California, while 7 Baseball PR hails from Caguas, Puerto Rico. Other teams came from Ohio, Wisconsin, Virginia, Illinois and New York State. A team from Uganda was allowed to scrimmage teams in the tournament.
The tournaments started the week of June 23, with the next wave coming in June 30. The last wave of teams left Auburndale in their rear view mirror July 11. Teams have been staying in the area for at least a week; the overall economic impact of the event is estimated at more than $5 million.
“May through September – basically, the summer – is typically the slowest segment of our year,” said Mark Jackson, the director of PCTSM. “So having a tournament here during this time of year reinforces our belief that our facilities make us a year-round sports destination. We’ve worked hard at getting to that point. Our investment in infrastructure has bolstered our reputation as a world class sports destination. This, coupled with customer-centric recruiting strategies, has created a year-round economic engine for Polk County.”