When baseball means business

Published 10:15 pm Thursday, June 25, 2009

Home runs, strikeouts and RBIs are just one aspect of baseball — however, it’s also a business.

Just ask the parents who have spent hundreds of dollars in the last few weeks on tournament team uniforms, Gatorade for all the practices and fuel traveling back and forth. Not to mention the rest of the money they’ll spend as tournament season kicks off.

Or, ask Jabs Sporting Goods employees, who have hit the jackpot making uniforms for almost every recreation league tournament team.

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Even ask Troy Parks and Recreation Director Dan Smith, who will employee about 25 extra part-time workers to cover the bases this weekend as Troy plays host to three Dixie League tournaments beginning today.

It’s a business that could mean big news for Troy’s local economy, which has suffered in losing sales tax revenues this year.

Smith said three tournaments will be held in Troy this weekend, welcoming between 1,000 and 2,000 people to town.

“There will be a number of parents, grandparents and others in town watching these games,” Smith said. “And obviously they’ll spend a lot of money on gas and food while they’re here.”

From restaurants to convenient stores to even retail outlets, businesses in Troy could see big impacts as travelers make their way to town today.

But, the out-of-towners aren’t the only ones making a dent in the economy.

Monica Stephens, a Troy parent with two sons on tournament teams, puts a big chunk of change in the baseball business.

Just this year alone, Stephens said she has spent close to $250 on uniforms. That doesn’t include the money she’ll pay to travel back and forth from practices and games, for gate fees, concessions and even out of town travel in a few weeks.

“It adds up, but for the fun they have, it’s worth it,” Stephens said.

Stephens is far from the only parent in the ball-game business.

Buddy Starling, who has three baseball-playing sons, said he puts quite a bit of investment into the sport.

“Just this past weekend, a friend and I were joking around, that if we had all the money we contributed to baseball and tournaments, we could probably take a wonderful seven-day cruise and really have a wonderful vacation,” Starling said. “By the time you travel to tournaments and pay for uniforms and pay admission and eat, it can be pretty significant, especially if you have more than one playing.”

Jabs Sporting Goods employees, who have made uniforms for all but two of the local tournament teams, said they are certainly feeling a positive impact.

“We went from the economy being bad and slow, and this helps out a lot,” said Christ Miller, store employee.

BJ Gralheer, assistant owner, said the store has been backed up for weeks working to make hats and jerseys for players and not just for Troy teams.

“We’re backed up now, and that’s a good thing,” Gralheer said. “We even have had three teams out of Ozark, some from Kinston and New Brockton.”

Uniforms range in price, from $1.50 up to more than $100 for some.

Smith said Troy alone has 13 different tournament teams, with 12 players on each one, ranging in ages from six to 13.

“We’ll have a lot of kids playing in Troy and on the road, so that obviously has a tremendous ripple affect that our teams have on the local economy, as well as other cities in their travel,” Smith said.