No joy in Groveville...
Imagine it. Today's debut of Late Night Tonight will feature a lively farmers market, about a dozen local artists, a smattering of wine tasting and at least a couple live bands. What a great way to welcome the scores of out-of-towners who have, for the past two years, flooded into Forest Grove each August to take part in the Junior League Western Regional baseball tournament.
The only blemish on this field of dreams is that this year, those kids and parents will be spending their evenings (and money) in Beaverton.
As News-Times Sports Editor Zack Palmer reveals in this week's paper, the annual parade of youth baseball players and fans was rerouted this year after a dust-up with Pacific University was allowed to go unresolved.
Since Pacific officials aren't saying much, it's not clear what happened in the dorms last year that resulted in some visiting players being sent home. But it doesn't really matter.
What does matter is that it seems nothing was done to patch things up with Pacific and find a way to make sure that the problems weren't repeated. As a result, organizers of the regional event couldn't be sure there'd be accommodations for the kids and moved the prestigious tournament to Beaverton.
That shouldn't have happened. The annual event featured some of the best youth baseball in the region and was a treat for sports fans, a source of pride for the city and a boon to local hoteliers, restaurateurs and merchants.
Adding insult to the financial injury is the fact that although the decision to relocate the tournament was made in January, many merchants, sports fans and civic leaders assumed until this week that the flood of youth baseball fans was still coming.
In fact, when Little League officials received a city grant this year to spruce up the ball fields, city councilors noted that it was money well spent, as the annual tournament had the town teaming with tourists. No one bothered to tell them, or merchants, that the baseball boost wasn't coming.
At some point, someone needs to sort out exactly what happened. But, more important, someone needs to make sure it doesn't happen again.
Indeed, the only bright spot in this story is that both the tournament organizers and the local Little League officials say they'd like to get the annual event back to Forest Grove.
In an interview with the News-Times, Mayor Richard Kidd said he'd do whatever he could to make that happen. We suggest he get together with Little League officials and Pacific University and solve the housing issue, or find alternative accommodations for the players.
That way, when the first Wednesday rolls around next August, the merchants and farmers market will be waiting to show a host of visitors the best that the city has to offer.
Northwest Oregon Conference