Spring Training isn’t only a Major League game

A college baseball player hits the ball during the RussMatt Tournament

The RussMatt Collegiate Baseball Invitational is the largest collegiate Spring Training event in the nation

When it comes to baseball, the Major League Spring Training isn’t the only game in town.

Starting Feb. 22, college teams from around the country come to Polk County to test their mettle against one another. In all, more than 200 teams will compete in this year’s RussMatt Collegiate Baseball Invitational representing various divisions in collegiate sports, from Division I through Division III as well as NAIA, JUCOs and NCCAA.

To understand just how vast the impact of the event is, over the duration of a single RussMatt tournament Polk County hotels will enjoy approximately 30,000 room nights during the 38 day event.

“As the business community in the area knows, RussMatt means full tables at local restaurants and full rooms for local hoteliers,” said Mark Jackson, Polk County Tourism and Sports Marketing director. “That’s roughly a $28 million shot-in-the-arm for the area.”

And while Auburndale’s Lake Myrtle Sports Park and Winter Haven’s Chain of Lakes Park host the majority of the games, other facilities – such as Warner University in Lake Wales, Henley Field in Lakeland and Polk State College in Winter Haven – will have a few games as well. RussMatt is the largest collegiate baseball tournament in the nation. The tournament ends March 31. This year, two new additions are half-price admission for Polk County residents and free entry for children wearing their team uniforms on Sundays. Plus, announcers will be on-hand during games played in the stadiums, and bat boys will be utilized on Sunday mornings. More information on the bat boy program is available by calling (863) 698-6639.

Ticket prices are $10 daily for adult, $45 for a weekly pass and $75 for a tournament pass.