Tournament added needed dollars to area businesses
- Joe McHaney
- Madras Pioneer - News
Juniper Hills Park was not the only place filled with out-of-town visitors over the past two weeks.
>All-stars fueled profits with large turnout
Area businesses, especially hotels, restaurants, gas stations and grocery stores, were swarmed with customers thanks to the District 5 Little League all-star tournament.
"Things went very well for us," said Black Bear Diner owner Joe Davis. "It was the busiest week that I've had in over two years."
Davis has been a longtime Little League supporter by donating funds and sponsoring teams. He said people talked highly of Madras in his restaurant.
"I think the people that visited Madras were delighted with our town and many of them talked highly about all the restaurants," Davis said. "I'm a huge fan of Little League and these are the kind of events that we really need to get behind."
The Little League tournament drew nearly 60 teams with 12-person rosters headed by two coaches and a manager per team to Madras for the 10-day event.
"Three of the tournament days we were completely full and one day we were one room short," said Inn at Cross Keys Station manager Tim Winegar. "That's really good business for us."
The Inn at Cross Keys Station has 72 rooms, and while the hotel conducts steady business, selling out is uncommon.
"We do pretty well in the summer months, but it's very hard for us to sell out," Winegar said. "I think it was good for the town, too, because we were recommending people to restaurants and all sorts of things."
Best Western front-desk manager Sharlene Richardson said they were "slammed" during the tournament with business.
"We were way above normal for four to five nights," Richardson said. "We saw a significant spike in business."
Jefferson County Little League directors planned on hosting anywhere from 1,000-1,500 visitors total for the tournament, Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce executive director Joe Krenowicz said.
"I drove by our restaurants the first couple nights and all of them looked slammed up until about 9 p.m.," Krenowicz said. "I was very encouraged by what I saw."
With campgrounds and hotels near capacity for most of the tournament, RV parking was set up at Jefferson County Middle School to accommodate visitors.
"The MAC group did an excellent job with the RV parking because many of area parks were full," Krenowicz said. "I was able to work with the ROTC groups that helped with parking the first few days of the tournament, and a lot of people that I talked with were unaware that we have a COCC campus in town, so the location of the tournament was a great way to showcase our community."
The deli at Erickson's Thriftway was a popular destination during the tournament for visitors.
"Most of our volume went to the service deli, snacks, drinks, ice and that kind of thing," said Erickson's Thriftway manager Dan Walston. "We would be on board in anyway, shape or form to bring the tournament back to Madras in the future. It was definitely a good thing for this town and this community."
Fast food chains like Dairy Queen and McDonald's had cars lined up for drive-up service, and tables were packed with customers during prime eating hours.
"We were way busier than normal," said Gloria Estrada of McDonald's. "We had cars backed up and we had to really move to keep up."
At Abby's Legendary Pizza, business was at an all-time high.
"It was a huge week for us," said Abby's general manager Jeff Howard. "Sales were up 50 percent. A lot of teams came in and ate after games, and we were busy all day for most of the tournament."
What made the tournament an even bigger bonus for area businesses was the duration of the event.
"When you have an event staged for that long of time, we were able to see a significant rise in business," Walston said.
Krenowicz said he plans to meet with JCLL president Julie Mitchell to discuss what went well, and things to improve upon for future tournaments.
"Julie and I have had discussions and want to bring more tournaments to Juniper Hills Park," Krenowicz said. "When you have tourists come in for more than one day, it's a large impact to our businesses."