Ripken Baseball | Sports Destination Management

Ripken Baseball

An Interview with Amanda Shank, Vice President, Business Development
Mar 01, 2024 | By: Amanda Shank

Amanda Shank

Ripken Baseball has the stated goal of providing ball players with an experience similar to those of Major League Baseball athletes. Ultimately, it gives players, coaches and families special memories that encourage them to continue to enjoy and play the game.

The organization offers events in different formats. The Ripken ExperienceTM is a series of purpose-built baseball venues, located in Aberdeen, Maryland; Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; Elizabethtown, Kentucky; Sandusky, Ohio; Pigeon Forge, Tennessee and Cooperstown, New York.

Other types of events include Ripken Select, which brings the Ripken Experience to cities outside those mentioned above. Another is the All-Ripken Games, for individual players (rather than teams).

With all that growth comes great opportunities, and SDM caught up with Amanda Shank, Vice President, Business Development at Ripken Baseball, to find out more.

Photo courtesy of Ripken Baseball
Photo courtesy of Ripken Baseball

Sports Destination Management: Ripken Baseball is booming.

Amanda Shank: Yes, we are always busy here and we’re showing no signs of slowing down. It’s all good growth! A few years back, we started the Ripken Select tournaments. Last year, we hosted five of them and this year, we’ll offer eight of them.

SDM: What are the All-Ripken events like – are they clinics or tournaments?

Shank: I would think of them as all-star events for individuals. In 2023, we acquired The Baseball Factory™ and Softball Factory™, an organization focused on player development, and they play a big role in this. In addition to having opening ceremonies for the athletes, we put them into games and hold skill competitions. A lot of the events are 8U to 14U, but for the older age groups, the Baseball Factory works on identifying talent and getting players placed at the right schools.

SDM: Does it differ from other showcase and college promotion programs?

Shank: It does. At the end of the day, while there are showcases and it is about college recruiting, the Baseball Factory’s model is one-on-one coaching and mentorship to help kids gain the right college placement for them. For example, if a kid wants to go to a DII school, it’s important to help them get there. For us, it just felt authentic to the Ripken brand; they cared about how kids got to the next level, and we’re excited to help them grow that.

SDM: What does Ripken Baseball look at when selecting sites for tournaments?

Shank: First, the quality of the facilities; guests expect a certain standard at a Ripken event. We need a certain number of fields as well. Then there’s the market: Do families want to spend their time there? What is the strength of the community partnership, such as with the CVB, sports commission or parks & rec? How strongly does that organization believe in the vision of sports tourism?

SDM: Do you see more Ripken Experience facilities being built?

Shank: We are actively looking to grow west; right now, our most westward Ripken facility is in Sandusky, Ohio.

SDM: How often do you get calls from people interested in having a Ripken Experience facility in their town?

Shank: At least a couple of times a week; people will have land or ideas and want to talk about the possibility of working with us.

SDM: And you need a destination that will work.

Shank: Yes, because when people are finished with their tournament and they’re leaving and going home, they’re assessing a lot of things: Not just the experience on the field but the quality of the restaurants and the hotels, for example. They are thinking holistically: How was my Ripken Experience? It matters to us that we have partners who are invested in what we are trying to accomplish.

SDM: You have a lot in the pipeline. Can we expect to see more news coming out of Ripken?

Shank: Yes; in the next 12 months, we’ll have some news. In fact, I think we’ll be making a few announcements this spring. SDM

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