Slow-pitch softball tournament throws $200K into economy
Softball players from Canada and the U.S. will face off this weekend at the Art Van Sports Complex.
Players from the two countries will play in the first USA-Canada Senior Border Battle in men’s slow-pitch softball.
The tournament will take place at the sports complex in Plainfield Township from Aug. 3-5.
It will be hosted by the nonprofit West Michigan Sports Commission and organized by the International Senior Softball Association, or ISSA, and Slo-Pitch Ontario Association, or SPO.
“Michigan is a big slow-pitch softball state, so this is an ideal fit to have this tournament in our backyard,” said Katy Tigchelaar, director of marketing and events at the West Michigan Sports Commission and local tournament director for the event.
“We hope to knock this first event out of the ballpark, literally, and continue to grow it in future years."
There will be 16 teams with 250 players between 50 to 65. There will be 12 teams playing from the U.S.: Florida, Illinois, Michigan (three teams), Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio (two teams), Texas and West Virginia.
Canada will have four teams from throughout Ontario.
Individual medals will be given to players on the top three teams.
"We can’t wait to participate in this unique initiative that brings an international level of competition to the most experienced slo-pitch players of our two countries, and we look forward to working with the ISSA and the West Michigan Sports Commission to make this an event to remember,” said Tom Buchan, CEO, Slo-Pitch Ontario Association.
The new men’s slow-pitch softball tournament will be held every other year between the Art Van Sports Complex and a venue in Ontario selected by SPO. During the off year, ISSA will host another slow-pitch senior event at the complex.
This weekend’s event is expected to have a $200,000 economic impact on the area. About 400 hotel nights are expected to be booked by players and an estimated 150 spectators coming from out of town.
The tournament will commence today at 7 p.m. with a home run derby, which will feature three-man groups from each of the 16 teams.
The tournament will be free and open to the public.