Saturday was opening day for the 2004 season at the Gulfport Sportsplex. Last August, the city broke ties with Southeastern Sports Management to take over management responsibilities. Sports Management managed the facility for the past two years. City officials said the Sports Management agency's operating performance was disappointing.
It's a new season and a new team of city managers.
"Well, we're not a sports agency. Most of my people have been in the business for 15-20 years and have degrees in this business. Some of them are real good promoters," Director of Leisure Services for the city of Gulfport, George Decoux said.
Decoux spent the day watching the games and noticing the more than 1,000 out-of-town players and supporters.
"Each team bringing in 20 people with their families and so fourth on an average, that's about 1200 to 1400 visitors we have here on the weekend," Decoux said.
After taking over the management of the Sportsplex, there was speculation about just how much of a difference the city could make. Eighteen tournaments were booked last year. This year, the city booked 60.
"We'll draw over 2000 teams," Decoux said.
"I enjoy working with the city of Gulfport. Everything that we have done together has been tremendous; we're building a stronger relationship," Matt Taylor said.
Taylor is Mississippi's director for the USSSA. He has scheduled 9 more tournaments this year at the Sportsplex and wants many more next year.
"Our organization is in all 50 states. We have over 10,000 slow pitch softball teams. This is one of the best complexes in the nation and a great crew to work with.
"All the income that we generate from this comes back into our department and to the city, and the economic impact will be about 13 to 13.5 million dollars on the City of Gulfport.
A home run for the city as they rally to get back on top of their financial game.