The Columbus Area Visitors Center received the "Distinguished Service Award" from the United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA) at their national meeting held recently in Kissimmee, Florida. Don DeDonatis, CEO of USSSA, presented the award to Lynn Lucas, Executive Director of the Columbus Area Visitors Center. The award was presented in recognition of the Visitors Center's "Outstanding and Continuous Support to the USSSA Program" during the past five years. Columbus was the only visitor bureau recognized by USSSA during this year's annual meeting.
Lynn Lucas, commenting about the award said "We are most appreciative of this recognition and are excited about the strong relationship Columbus has developed with USSSA during the past five years. We are proud to be associated with the premiere multi-sport organization in the country."
At the annual meeting, it was also learned that Columbus has been awarded a Girl's Fast Pitch World Series, a Boy's Baseball World Series, the Boy's Baseball Indiana State Tournament, the Girl's Fast Pitch Indiana State Tournament, and a Men's Major National Softball Invitational Tournament in 2009.
For the sixth year in a row, Columbus was awarded and will host a Girl's Fast Pitch World Series. The 2009 World Series will feature girls in 11 and under and 16 and under age divisions. This seven-day event represents over $2,000,000 in economic impact to the Columbus area. Dates for the 2009 Fast Pitch World Series are July 27th thru August 2nd.
For the second year, Columbus was awarded the boy's Baseball World Series. Last year, the Baseball World Series attracted 61 teams; it is estimated that approximately 80 teams will participate in the 2009 9u, 11u and 13u age divisions. In 2008, the economic impact to the area for this 5-day event was over $1,000,000. Dates for next year's Baseball World Series are July 15th thru July 19th.
This is the fifth year in a row that Columbus was awarded the Men's Major Tournament. The Men's Major Softball National Invitational is a tournament consisting of the top men's slow pitch softball teams from throughout the country, including the #1 team in the country, Resmondo Softball, from Lake Wales, Florida. The 2009 Men's Major will be held May 15th thru May 17th.
In all, nineteen USSSA events will be brought to Columbus and Bartholomew County in 2009 with an estimated economic impact to the area of over $9,000,000. Last year's USSSA tournaments resulted in over $23,000 income to the Columbus Parks & Recreation Department. Because of this year's negotiations, it is anticipated that the income to the Parks Department from this year's events could significantly exceed last year's totals. Income from the USSSA events helps offset the Park's operating budget expenses.
During 2008, the Columbus Visitor Center invested $41,025 in bid fees for sports tournaments and over $42,000 in hotel rooms for tournament officials. A portion of these costs are returned to the Visitors Center through the innkeeper's tax. The Columbus Visitors Center will spend over $94,000 during 2008 in sports marketing dollars to bring and help conduct 48 sporting events to the area. The economic impact resulting from these 48 events exceeded $12 million dollars in 2008. None of the dollars expended by the Visitors Center comes from local taxes.
For 2009 there will be a slight reduction in bid fees, an increase in fees paid to the Parks Department for the use of facilities, and a reduction in the cost of official's hotel rooms. However, it is anticipated Columbus will see an increase in economic impact from USSSA events in 2009.
The City of Columbus and Bartholomew County are the big winners as the 2009 USSSA tournaments will result in over $9,000,000 economic impact to the area this coming year. The total economic impact for all sporting events is expected to exceed $12,000,000 dollars in 2009. For further information please contact Lynn Lucas, Executive Director, Columbus Area Visitors Center or Jim Dietz, Director of Sports Tourism, Columbus Area Visitors Center at 812-378-2622.