The other boys of summer are here

When it comes to baseball, the Detroit Tigers are indisputably the biggest game in town. But they aren’t the only game in town.

Starting Feb. 24, college teams from around the country come to Polk County to test their mettle against one another. In all, more than 240 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.

A college baseball pitcher throws the ball during the RussMatt Tournament

“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.

Among the experience changes planned by Sitz includes half-price admission for Polk County residents and free entry for children wearing their team uniforms on Sundays. Additionally, announcers will be on-hand during games played in stadiums, and bat boys will be utilized on Sunday mornings. More information on the bat boy program is available by calling (863) 698-6639.