Sports Destination Management recently recognized Babe Ruth League’s Cal Ripken Major/70 World Series and the Branson Convention and Visitors Bureau as one of the small market champions of economic impact in sports tourism.
The Cal Ripken Major/70 World Series is an international youth baseball tournament held annually.
The event is typically held during the first two weeks of August. This past summer, $2.65 million was added to the Branson economy through the duration of the event.
Twenty-nine teams venture to Branson from all over the world. Every year, there are nine international teams and 20 teams from the United States. In years past international teams have come from Australia, the Bahamas, Canada, Curacao, the Dominican Republic, Japan, Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Puerto Rico. Domestic teams span from coast to coast and even Hawaii.
In 2017, Babe Ruth League moved the series to Ballparks of America in Branson after 13 years in Aberdeen, Maryland.
Babe Ruth League has World Series all around the country, but the Cal Ripken Major/70 World Series is different. World Series Director Michael Solanik said one of the main reasons for that is the relationship the series has formed with the Branson Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“The Major/70 is totally different than our other world series,” Solanik said. “At the other world series, the local hosts pay the hosting fee. They run it all themselves.”
That means that the host – typically a local league – pays for the tournament, that money then goes to Babe Ruth League.
For the CRWS, Branson CVB covers the cost of the hosting fee. And unlike other world series, a local host does not run the series all by themselves.
“Babe Ruth League headquarters works on a lot of the operations at the world series,” Solanik said.
Since the eight regional teams do not qualify until just 10 days prior to the series, Babe Ruth League covers the transportation costs for those teams. The international teams pay their own way in, but Babe Ruth League has them housed on the Ballparks of America complex and covers their food while they’re on site.
In the three years the world series has been in Branson, Solanik has worked on creating relationships throughout the community. These include partnerships with hotels like Stone Castle, the local Enterprise for car rentals and Branson Gray Line for transportation to and from airports. They even host their opening ceremonies at Dolly Parton’s Stampede, where the tickets have sold out the past two years.
He said, although Babe Ruth League is based in New Jersey, they try to keep as much of their spending for the Cal Ripken Major/70 World Series localized to Branson.
“We were blessed at the Stone Castle Hotel and Conference Center to be the host hotel,” Sharon Gray said. “14 teams called the Castle their home.”
Gray said the teams stay no less than five nights, but many will stay for 10 or more. Between the teams and their family members, 80% of the room inventory at Stone Castle was taken during the World Series.
Around Branson, there are a total of 3,200 nights booked at hotels for the duration of the series.
“Branson has been a wonderful host and our participants absolutely enjoy their experience,” Babe Ruth League President and CEO Steven M. Tellefsen said. “We are grateful for the hospitality that the Branson community has offered.”
Not only does the Cal Ripken Major/70 World Series benefit the local economy, the event gives back to the community as well. Early in the summer, they organized the donation of an $80,000 scoreboard from Varsity Scoreboards. The scoreboard was installed at St. Louis Stadium on the Ballparks of America campus. After the series ended in August, extra bedding and food was donated to nonprofits in the area.
The series returns to Branson August 6-15.
Those interested in volunteering for next year’s series are encouraged to send an email to email@example.com.