By Josh Beavers
The second of two Dixie All-Star tournaments begins today in Minden.
The 12U tourney features teams from across the area, all playing for a chance at making it to the state tournament later this month. First up for our local team is a 6 p.m. game this evening against Benton. The contest will be decided on Field 9 at the Minden Rec.
This weekend’s tournament follows on the heels of last week’s event which brought in valuable dollars to the local economy. The Journal spoke to Minden Mayor Terry Gardner and Recreation Director Rocke Musgraves about the importance of these events to the City of Minden and surrounding communities.
The Journal: How do tournaments like this help Minden?
Mayor Gardner: First of all they bring visitors to Minden so they can see what a beautiful town we have. They also stay at our hotels, campgrounds, and bed and breakfast locations which in turn brings dollars because of dining out and shopping.
Rocke: Besides the economic impact visitors have on Minden, I think it creates a better sporting experience for our local citizens when they get to compete against other towns/areas. There are many positive by-products created when our local citizens compete against other communities – civic pride and a sense of community to name a few.
The Journal, to Rocke: Statistics bear out that young people who participate in quality sports programs develop strong character traits. How does that benefit the community?
Rocke: When done within proper financial constraints, quality sports programs can give back to the community exponentially in the form of local pride, youth character development, and in some cases can create financial opportunities.
The Journal: Why do organizations like to use our facilities for their tournaments?
Mayor Gardner: I believe other travel ball teams and groups enjoy using our fields, buildings etc, because we always try to put our best foot forward, and our concessions are over the top when it comes to eating ballpark food. We can host large numbers of teams and spectators with our abundant parking, large open spaces, and large number of fields.
Rocke: Our Rec Center is considered a quality venue for tournaments because of the number and quality of fields. As far as facilities with natural turf and dirt fields, there are none better than THE REC in Minden.
The Journal, to Mayor Gardner: How do tournaments like this help Minden?
Mayor Gardner: Visitors commerce is up in taxes 55.29% last month and a lot of that would be overnight stays because of ball games. Also sales tax has been up and some of that is due to purchases while groups are in town.
The Journal, to Rocke: We have seen many different types of events at THE REC including, but not limited to: softball, baseball, soccer, basketball, karate, and football tournaments. These tournaments have provided great opportunities for our youth and adults to participate against strong competition. Different avenues for generating revenue exist within each of these events, such as gate receipts, concession sales, facility rentals, and local tax collections through people spending money in Minden. What do you see as the future for the Rec?
Rocke: You will probably see some changes in our youth sports programs with the advent of “Travel Ball.” We are looking at being more inclusive with these groups so we can get all the kids in this area competing and recreating through THE REC. We believe this will create a stronger Minden and bring people together. There seems to be so many things fragmenting our society; hopefully THE REC can be an entity to bring people back together.