The Baltimore Orioles hosted three youth baseball tournaments in May and June that attracted more than 8,500 athletes, coaches and family members to Sarasota County's Ed Smith Stadium and the Buck O'Neil Baseball Complex (BOBC).
The Orioles, who manage both facilities year-round, worked with representatives from Prospect Wire and Southwest Florida United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA) Baseball to recruit the tournaments to Sarasota County.
"These tournaments generated thousands of room nights for local accommodations, plus spending at area restaurants and retail establishments," said Laura Williams, Orioles Director of Florida Operations. "This is the type of economic boost our community will gain as the Orioles continue to work with partners like Visit Sarasota County to market these newly renovated facilities."
USSSA Youth Travelball baseball players ages 8-16 took the field at BOBC for two tournaments in May, the Gulf Coast Championship and the Memorial Day NIT. The tournaments included more than 80 teams from throughout Florida escorted by over 1,000 family members, according to tournament organizer Ron Filipkowski. USSSA is considering additional multi-day events in Fall 2012 at Orioles facilities in Sarasota County.
"There are a lot of travel baseball tournaments in different parts of the state every weekend, so it is important for Sarasota to have something special to offer," Filipkowski said. "The Baltimore Orioles have provided that for us with Major League quality fields close to I-75, and their professional grounds crew maintains the fields to a very high standard throughout the tournament. It is a key component in USSSA's ability to attract teams to come here."
Prospect Wire hosted its Florida state finals for four age groups of high school baseball players June 9-13 at both Ed Smith Stadium and BOBC. The tournament showcased the players' abilities for consideration by college and pro scouts. The event included 3,500 participants, with an equal number of family members in attendance.
"One of the main reasons we chose Sarasota are the Orioles facilities," said Matt Bomeisl with Prospect Wire. "This is the largest amateur state championship in summer baseball. With that distinction comes the need for enough fields to host a tournament of this size. Between the Buck O'Neil complex and the Ed Smith complex, Sarasota is a great location. The Orioles have first-class venues that have helped us draw additional teams from out of the area."Sporting events are just one potential use of the Orioles' spring training facilities. The Orioles are collaborating with Visit Sarasota County on other potential event bookings. Various areas of the facilities are available in addition to the baseball fields, such as the stadium's World Series Suites, Third Base Lounge and Café 54, among others. Parties interested in facilities rentals may contact the Orioles at 941-893-6300 or via email to OriolesinSRQ@orioles.com.