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Huge Softball Tournament Another 'Well-Oiled Machine' For Normal

With 116 teams representing 29 states, the Town of Normal hit another grand slam this week by hosting the USA Class A 16-and-under girls national softball tournament.

Matt Hawkins, the sports marketing manager for the Bloomington-Normal Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, estimates the weeklong event will generate “a little over $2 million" for the local economy.

“It’s certainly probably the biggest sporting event Bloomington-Normal hosts,” added Hawkins. “We estimate there will be between 6,000 and 7,000 hotel rooms used for the week, not to mention all the business for restaurants and retail stores.”

Cary Frey of the Town of Normal and co-director for the event said this is the 12th time a national tournament has been staged in the Twin Cities since 1994.

“We’re always excited to put these on,” added Frey. “There’s a lot of work, but it’s a lot of fun to see what it does for the community. The crowds have been awesome.”

Tournaments are awarded on a bid basis, according to Frey.

“A lot of things go into it but No. 1, and why we’ve had success, is they (the committee) look at experience,” said Frey. "Who has been able to pull these off in the past."

“Then they look at fields and facilities, accessibility and community resources to put this together. Our track record certainly speaks for our success in the past," Frey added.

Hawkins said several hundred volunteers also are instrumental in the tournament’s success.

“We can’t thank those people enough,” Hawkins continued. “There are well-over several 100 volunteer slots throughout the week from scorekeepers, scoreboard operators, public address announcers to ticket-takers and parking attendants.

"And we are lucky to have a first-rate complex like Champion Fields. The Town of Normal has built a reputation for hosting great events and they have this running like a well-oiled machine.”

And after this tournament ends, Frey and other town officials will head to Greensboro, North Carolina, in October to find out if they succeeded in landing the girls 12-and-under national tournament in 2019.

You can also listen to GLT's full story about the tournament:

GLT's full story about this week's national tournament.

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