Youth Baseball Event Boosts Family Tourism

More than 500 youth baseball players, fans and supporters are spending the weekend on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

"Welcome to the 12-year-old Southwest region baseball tournament," the announcer's voice boomed over the Bayou View ballpark, as hundreds of visitors cheered and clapped.

Visiting families will cheer on their teams and root for favorite players.

"Number one, Michael Lewis," said the announcer, to another chorus of cheers from the bleachers.

Along with baseball, the fans will also be spending time and money away from the ballpark.

Tony Ethridge of Bryant, Arkansas was already making plans.

"Play a little golf. Do a little shopping. Have a good time like that. Kind of a break from the kids, you know," he explained, "Oh yeah, gotta drop a little money somewhere. At least that's what my wife tells me."

As supporters cheer on their kids, area merchants also have reason to cheer.

Olga Ramos had baseball and shopping on her mind at Friday's opening ceremony.

"I'm going to hit the outlets! I already spotted them out there," she said.

"We've already started spending money," said her smiling husband, Rick Ramos.

Ten different teams will battle on the ballfield for the right to advance.

Jill Seward captured some video memories on her camera to take home to nearby Kenner. Between games, this baseball mom plans to squeeze in some shopping.

"Staying at the Crystal Inn right now. And we're going back and forth and will come back and stay on Sunday," she said.

"We are from Allen, Texas and we are located north of the Dallas area," said Patti Locklear, as she cheered on her son's team.

She's counting on some beach time and sight seeing during her visit to South Mississippi. Locklear will also be dropping a few dollars.

"Oh, I'm sure we will. Isn't that what it's all about?" she said, wearing a big smile.

The winning 12-year-old team advances to the next tournament at Aberdeen, Maryland. But tourism just might be the biggest winner this weekend.