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Babe Ruth tourney canceled

Andalusia Director of Leisure Services Dwight Mikel said Monday the city has canceled the 6-under Babe Ruth regional softball tournament that had been scheduled to start Thursday at the Andalusia Sports Complex.

Mikel said that when the tournament was awarded to Andalusia in October 2008, a total of 24 teams from seven Southeastern states had committed to attend. By Monday morning, the number of confirmed teams had dwindled to four.

Mikel said it was not financially viable to host a tournament with so few teams, and the city decided Monday morning to officially cancel.

“I think there was a series of things that led to this point, but a lot of it is the economy,” he said. “We lost everybody except Florida and Alabama, so that tells me that it was the economy to some extent, because of the proximity of the folks who were still interested in coming.

“We made the decision (Monday) morning when Tennessee confirmed to us they had chosen not to come. That dropped us to four teams, and it just wasn’t practical to still host at that point.”

Mikel said the 14-under, 16-under and 18-under Babe Ruth regional softball tournaments will still be held, starting Thurs., July 16, at the complex.

“We’ve got 29 teams coming in for that tournament,” he said. “That one still looks very solid and we expect it to be a very strong, beneficial turnout for our community. All of those girls will be staying in local hotels, and eating in local restaurants, and spending their money here in Andalusia.”

Mikel said members of his staff spent most of Monday morning contacting representatives from Babe Ruth Softball, umpires, vendors and local volunteers who had committed to attending the 6-under tournament.

In the Babe Ruth Softball League, there is no World Series for the 6-under division — a World Series is only held for the 12-under and 16-under age groups. Mikel said this fact played a role in the city’s decision to cancel.

“This regional tournament would have been the last level for these teams,” he said. “Now, if this tournament had been a qualifier for a World Series, then we still would have played it even if there was only two teams in the tournament.”

Ultimately, Mikel said the decision to cancel came down to the fact it was just not economically feasible for the city to host a tournament with so little participation.

“That’s the one thing that is disappointing,” he said. “I still believe that the four teams who were coming would have brought a large personal following and have been a boost to the local economy. But it just would not have been viable financially for us to have still held the tournament.

“We’re not necessarily looking to make money on these tournaments, but we’ve also got to assure ourselves that we’re not going to lose money on them, either.”

Mikel said the city is still in great shape to host the Babe Ruth regional tournaments that begin Thurs., July 16. If any one wishes to volunteer, call Karin Taylor at 222-6612.