FHSAA baseball championships a big draw, yield $1.4 million for Lee County

FHSAA baseball championships a big draw, yield $1.4 million for Lee County

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FHSAA baseball championships a big draw, yield $1.4 million for Lee County

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The state championship baseball tournaments at JetBlue Park last month outdrew each of the preceding four years of tournaments held in Port St. Lucie.
The Florida High School Athletic Association Finals generated an estimated $1.4 million in economic impact, said Lee County Sports Authority director Jeff Mielke, falling short of the projected $1.8 million.
Having local teams Estero and Bishop Verot in the tournament kept the estimated hotel room night bookings to about 2,700 and increased operational expenses, Mielke said.
The presence of the two local teams, however, boosted the event’s publicity and game attendance, Mielke said.
Lee County spent an additional $5,000 on Lee County Sheriff deputies to monitor traffic on the three days Bishop Verot and Estero competed, Mielke said, an expense that would not have been needed had they not been participating.
The eight days of competition at the spring training home of the Boston Red Sox drew 9,908 paying fans, 2,642 more than last year’s tournament played in Port St. Lucie.
The tournament averaged 940 fans per day when local teams did not compete and 1,735 fans per day when Bishop Verot or Estero did play.
“I thought the event went fantastic, even better than what we expected,” Mielke said. “It was a first-time event and a first-time partnership for the FHSAA. We had expected some bumps in the road, but there weren’t any. I think we were well prepared for the event. Our event management team is second to none. They’re the best anywhere at doing it. Everyone really enjoyed themselves.”
Lee County gave the FHSAA the first $54,000 in ticket revenue as part of the deal to host the finals. The remaining $35,000 gets split 50-50 between the county and the FHSAA.
Mielke said the county would know in about a month the total expenses for putting on the event. Those expenses, Mielke said, are worth it for the reward of hotel rooms being booked and meals being bought at local restaurants.
“We don’t break even on any of those events,” Mielke said. “No money flows in to our bank accounts. For every baseball tournament, we’ve got labor costs. We try to make sure that the dollars we spend generates ‘X’ amount of dollars of economic activity.
“Our department’s business is to bring tourism and economic impact here, and I think we nailed it. We got statewide attention. There were many articles written across the state that mentioned JetBlue Park and Lee County. So we certainly hit our mark with that.”
Corey Sobers, spokesperson for the FHSAA, echoed that sentiment.
“We are thrilled with how smoothly the tournament ran,” said Sobers, who thanked Cypress Lake athletic director Josh Corr, the Boston Red Sox and the Lee County officials for organizing a team of dozens of volunteers for the games played May 15-23. “Without the staff and volunteers, this tournament could not have been as successful as it was and their experience in hosting large-scale events really showed.”

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FHSAA baseball championships a big draw, yield $1.4 million for Lee County
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