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Council helps boost tourney

The City of Andalusia recently nabbed a big fish in terms of prestigious youth baseball tournaments as it gained the opportunity to host the Babe Ruth Leagues of Virginia's Southeast Regional Tournament for 13 to 15-year-olds.

The tournament is scheduled for July 25 on the campus of LBW Junior College.

During the regular meeting of the Andalusia City Council May 6, the council approved the appropriation of $12,500 from its contingency fund to help in costs associated with the event.

The Department of Leisure Services, headed by Dwight Mikel had previously made the request for the appropriation.

Mayor Earl Johnson said on April 17, the Andalusia Babe Ruth League signed a contract with Babe Ruth Baseball, Inc. to serve as the Southeast Regional site.

He said the signing of the contract was the culmination of three years of hard work from the local league and the Department of Leisure Services to secure the contract.

"This tournament will provide our community the unique opportunity to host ten teams from seven southeastern states for a one-week period during late July," said Johnson.

He explained that not only will the tournament be a windfall for the area economically, but the publicity generated by the city hosting the event "couldn't be better."

"The lasting effect (of the tournament) will live in our town for years to come," said Johnson.

He explained that with the benefits of hosting the tournament also comes challenges, especially in terms of financing the event.

"(The tournament) has an expected expense budget of some $35,000, most of which will be covered by the tournament revenue and other contributions such as state and county," said Johnson. "The support that is being requested is short of the revenue needed to provide the additional facilities required for an event of this magnitude."

Johnson said those additional facilities would help provide

"a showcase for our community."

"This opportunity (to host a tournament of such magnitude) only occurs every 25 to 30 years," said Johnson. "I don't believe we can afford to let this opportunity pass us by and we need to showcase our community to an awful lot (of people from several states who will attend). I commend Mr. Mikel, I commend the Department of Leisure Services and the recreation board and everybody involved with this effort to land this tournament here. It is going to be exciting and I look forward to it."

Councilman Jerry Andrews, in making the motion to approved the appropriation, said he concurred with Johnson that the cooperation from various departments which led to the city landing the event and said he is very proud.