On May 7, 2012, the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority (CVA) and the City of Valparaiso announced the National Softball Association (NSA) “B” World Series would be played throughout parks in Northwest Indiana, with the opening ceremony to be held in Valparaiso’s Central Park Plaza.
“This is a huge piece of economic impact for all of Northwest Indiana,” explained Speros Batistatos, President and CEO of the South Shore CVA.
The expected economic impact for the region, derived from an estimated 280 teams particpating with 14 girls per team, and the families and visitors accompanying those players, is expected to be in the area of $2 million.
The NSA Tournament has been held in Northwest Indiana before, including in 2007 and 2009, and the tournament is planned to be held in the region again in 2014 and possibly 2016. Previous events have brought thousands to the area, and as many as 8,000 people attended the 2009 Block Party opening ceremony in Crown Point's downtown square. For this year’s tournament, Batistatos is expecting to see somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000 visitors come to Northwest Indiana.
“We are thrilled to accept the offer from Speros to host the opening ceremonies in the most vibrant and beautiful downtown in the Midwest,” said Valparaiso mayor Jon Costas. “We are especially excited to showcase Central Park Plaza. This is a large event and we are going to have thousands of people in our downtown.”
Batistatos cited the South Shore CVA’s 30-year-long standing relationship with the Lutheran Basketball Association of America, whose national tournament is held annually at Valparaiso University's ARC, as an indicator for the kind of economic impact that a large-scale amateur sporting tournament can bring to Northwest Indiana.
“We’re finding that visitor spending in terms of sports is up,” explained Batistatos. “We are finding, based on the annual Lutheran basketball tournament that just took place in this community three weeks ago, that spending was in excess of $300 per person per night.”
He continued, “I think it speaks well to the kinds of businesses, attractions, and opportunities that exist in Valpo for amateur sports. We are very excited to make this announcement today when you have those kinds of numbers."
The opening ceremony will be held on Monday, July 23rd in Valparaiso’s Fairgrounds Park and Central Park Plaza and will kick off the week-long tournament.
“We have events that will be occurring the day of the event, a celebration of sport at our Fairgrounds Park facility, where we’ll have activities for the athletes primarily, but also some for the families,” explained John Seibert, Director of Valparaiso Department of Parks and Recreation. “Then we will culminate [the ceremony] in our downtown Central Park Plaza to celebrate our downtown for the athletes and all they bring with them.”
A committee has been formed to showcase downtown during the opening ceremonies including Tina St. Aubin (Valparaiso Community Festivals and Events), Bill Oeding and Matt Murphy (City of Valparaiso), along with Seibert and Dan McGuire (Valparaiso Parks).
“We want to showcase what Valparaiso has to offer,” said Jason Sands, Director of Sports Development for South Shore Promotions. “We are really excited about it.”
Locations for the tournaments, include:
- Crown Point Facility: 801 W. 113th Avenue Crown Point, IN 46307
- St. John Softball Fields: 10616 White Oak Ave St. John, IN 46373
- Imagination Glen: 2275 McCool Rd Portage, IN 46368
- Valparaiso Park: Evans & Calumet Valparaiso, IN 46383
- Hidden Lake: 6355 Broadway Merrillville, IN 46410
- Highland Softball Complex: 8071 Kennedy Ave Highland, IN 46322
- Patriot Park: 2224 N. 950 West Michigan City, IN 46360
- Kesling Park: 18th & A St. LaPorte, IN 46360