For 34 years, the Little League State Tournament has been held in Waco. This year, the games are in East Texas.
Hundreds of out of towners have converged on Tyler's Faulkner Park, all ready to play ball. But this tournament is more than just a game for the Tyler economy.
They came from all over the state of Texas. From the Fort Bend Bulldogs, to the Mustangs and the Missouri City Little League. "We have 26 boys and their parents, most of whom came," says Missouri City manager Jeff Flasik.
The city of Tyler estimates with coaches, managers, players and their families, about 500-700 out of towners came to the city. Local merchants took notice, many welcoming the little leaguers to Tyler. It worked. Many visitors say the change from Waco was good. "The kids like to get out here more and so do the parents. It's a nice area and we've seen the college and several things like that and they wanted to see the ball field there. There's just more to do," says parent Dana Price.
The games began about 6:00 p.m. Wednesday night and the little leaguers will be busy pitching, batting and making bases. But in-between games, players, their parents and coaches will be spending cash. "We're staying at the Candlewood Suites. We hit the Wal-Mart to stock up on some supplies, and a couple of us ate at Applebees," says parent Linda Faubion. and Dana Price says, "We've been to the mall several times, some of us like to go bowling, they go to the movie theater. They love to eat, so that's where most of our money goes."
Tyler officials believe when all is said and done, this State Little League Tournament will bring in about $50,000 into the economy. That translates into a home run for both the league and Tyler.
State little league officials say they moved the Eastern Division tournament out of Waco because the league has just gotten too big to be able to play all the games in one location.