The first ball tournaments of the season at Snowden Grove Park and Greenbrook Softball Complex brought over 140 teams to Southaven, and city officials say the city will host a record number of teams this weekend.
Snowden Grove hosted the Earlybird Classic while Greenbrook was home to the Bring the Heat tournament.
Southaven Mayor Darren Musselwhite said the city’s investment in converting the fields to artificial turf was money well spent.
“The first weekend was a great example of the business decision this board made,” Musselwhite told the Board of Aldermen. “The response was incredible. They loved it. Those parks have always been beautiful. They are even more beautiful now.”
Snowden Grove Park has 17 artificial turf playing fields and eight softball fields at Greenbrook. The city spent $5.6 million converting the infields at Snowden Grove to artificial turf which is what most tournament teams prefer to play on.
“Had we not had artificial turf, with the rain and weather that we had, we would not have been playing last weekend,” Musselwhite said.
Musselwhite said tournaments add millions of dollars to the local economy.
Snowden Grove Park was built in 1999 and hosts more than 10 major tournaments each weekend from March to June. More than 2,000 teams a year travel to Southaven to Snowden Grove to play in tournaments. According to the City, tournaments generate about $12 million spent in the city and have a total economic impact of about $25 million.
“Every team generally has 11 to 12 players,” Musselwhite said. “And those 12 players usually bring on average four family members with them. You can do your own math on how many people that brings in. The ones from out of town are going to get a hotel room. It has a tremendous economic impact on the city.”
Musselwhite said the money generated from those ball fields helps the city pave more streets, hire more police and firemen, and is a big reason why the city hasn’t had to increase property taxes since 2006.
“So for everyone who doesn’t understand the value of Snowden Grove and Greenbrook Park, it’s not about baseball and softball,” Musselwhite said. “It’s about tourism and economic development. Everyone who lives in the city benefits financially from these two parks.”
Musselwhite said this weekend Snowden Grove Park will host a record 158 teams, breaking the previous record of 152.
“So the investment you made in the ball fields are paying off for our city,” Musselwhite said. “It’s not about the sport. It’s an asset for the whole city whether you have a child playing or not.”