The sounds of cleats hitting the pavement and bats clinking against softballs will fill Alachua County for the next few days as it hosts the Babe Ruth League World Series.
Hal Brady Recreation Complex will host the 12-U (twelve and under) teams for the fourth time in five years. The 8-U, 10-U and 14-U will play in Champions Park for the first time.
This is the first time the 8, 10 and 14-year-old age groups are competing in the World Series.
Brad Carman, Newberry’s Parks and Recreation Department director, said Newberry decided to host the tournament because of the possible economic impact. He estimates tournament attendees will spend about $10 million at local businesses.
Champions Park concession stands use groceries from local stores like Hitchcock’s Markets to support smaller businesses , Carman said.
Revenue generated at the stands throughout the tournament will be used for future park projects.
“We want to use the money for ball field improvements and programs for the girls,” said Erik Braggs, a parent volunteer and local Santa Fe Babe Ruth 12U team coach.
Rob Connor, national commissioner for the Babe Ruth League, said participants booked about 4,300 room-nights at Alachua County hotels for the tournament.
“The economic impact for Alachua County is pretty substantial with the amount of teams we’re bringing in,” he said.
Joe Jacobs, New Jersey’s Sparta Softball 12-U team manager, and his team are staying at the Best Western off Northwest 39th Avenue in Gainesville.
Jacobs, a first-time attendee, said so far he has been impressed with the tournament’s location.
“It’s very accommodating and everything’s easy to get to.” he said. “It’s very well set up.”
Sixty-one teams will compete in various tournament styles beginning today, with the championship games being played on Aug. 4.