Softball tourney brings cash in, takes some home
The Premier Resorts Triple Crown Girls Fastpitch World Series has become one of the highest revenue generating events in Summit County.
Whoever thought Park City would be a Mecca for softball? How about Triple Crown’s Gene Plummer and Park City Chamber/Bureau Executive Director Bill Malone for starters.
"I think it just fits well here," Malone said. "It’s one of those things there can be sports tournament anywhere in the country but I think it’s cool for them to get to go to a premier tournament at a high profile mountain destination, which makes it a vacation on their part."
The tournament, which is in its fourth year in Park City, is the national championship series for softball in America. It attracts 200 girls’ teams from Under-10 to collegiate age, and brings in an estimated $7-8 million to Park City over a three-week period.
"From an economic standpoint, we look at this event as probably bringing in something in the neighborhood between $7 million and $8 million dollars from the participants and the families of the participants over the three weeks," Malone said. "A lot of that is lodging and dining, but another large portion is spent in the retail area as well."
Many local lodging companies were booked during the weeks of the tournament months in advance, with each of the 200 teams bringing almost 50 people apiece. That comes to over 10,000 visitors, each staying five to nine nights, who need to eat, sleep, shop and play while they’re in town.
Malone said on the arrival day each week the local supermarkets have a spike in water, licorice and sunflower seed sales, as well as an increase in retail spending and fun activities, such as the Alpine Slide at Park City Mountain Resort or river rafting trips, once teams are eliminated and get more relaxed.
But Malone also conceded that all business are not affected the same. Food and lodging companies see the largest increase in revenue, followed by retail and other stores catering to teenage girls and their families.
Gene Plummer, championship sales and marketing director for Triple Crown, said Park City is an ideal place for the tournament.
"This is a championship," he said. "This isn’t just a regular tournament. It’s a great vacation for the bunch when they come, as well. In talking with Bill (Malone) over at the Chamber, last year when we finished up our two weeks he said we were the No. 3 revenue generating event in Park City, with No.1 being the Sundance Film Festival."
But not only does Park City do well by being able to host the tournament, the tournament usually ends up OK as well.
Each of the 200 teams pays an entry fee to play in the tournament, most of them paying $695 per team. With 200 teams, just the entry fees bring in somewhere near $139,000.
The other main source of income for Triple Crown is ad sales. Apart from having both national and local sponsors, the tournament also attracts companies that wish to advertise in the tournament program. This year’s program features ads purchased by 55 different companies.
Triple Crown also sells novelties, gear and apparel. Pins sell for $3, T-shirts for $22 and jackets for $40. They also sell everything from hand towels to sweatshirts.
"This isn’t just an event, Triple Crown is a business," Plummer said. "We have girls fastpitch, adult slowpitch, youth baseball, and although I don’t think we’re doing that much with it right now, but we do have soccer as well. We have a corporate headquarters with a full-time staff. Each event has a budget and they try to meet that, but we are a national business."
Triple Crown has a contract with the city, so it doesn’t have to pay to use the fields, but it does pay its umpires to call the games. There are generally two per game, costing the tournament roughly $60 per game for umpires, which adds up to about $30,000.
"We’re playing on a lot of different fields and there are two umpires at every field. Umpires are a major expense. We house them and pay for their services on the field. We also have to pay our staff of about 30 people who are at the tournament."
Generally, the profits go back to the company, but Triple Crown also gives some back to the community. They allow local athletic teams the chance to run the concession stands and keep the profits.
"They get to go in and do the concessions and it makes for a great fundraiser," Plummer said. "Everything they make is theirs. We give them that opportunity because we want to thank this great community."
The tournament started on July 11 and will run until July 29.
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Trailside Park will receive a 10-acre expansion after receiving a permit from county officials this week. The plan calls for two ballfields, two pavilions and 127 parking spots.