O's economic impact in Sarasota grows with expanded Wilson tournament

Just because Orioles spring training at Ed Smith Stadium has ended doesn't mean the end of baseball in Sarasota. Thanks to the Orioles, baseball continues to be a year-round activity in and around their preseason home.

After impressing organizers of the prestigious Wilson Premier baseball tournament program in 2016, the Orioles will host 15 days of competition in Sarasota County this summer from June 22-July 12 during the Wilson Premier Championship East. The event is one of the largest Florida-based tournaments in amateur baseball and the largest tournament the Orioles have drawn to Sarasota County.

Thumbnail image for Ed Smith Stadium.jpg"Wilson Premier brought a weekend tournament to us last September to test the waters, and we demonstrated that Sarasota County and the Orioles' facilities are ideal for elite competition and larger events," said David Rovine, vice president of Orioles-Sarasota. "The Wilson Premier Championship East is an opportunity for college and professional baseball scouts to see young players in action."

The tournament will draw 240 teams from across the country. Players 15-17 will compete during five-day tournaments that span three weeks. Games will be played on the five fields at the Buck O'Neil Baseball Complex at Twin Lakes Park, as well as the main field and three practice fields at Ed Smith Stadium.

"The drawing power for Sarasota is the combination of community assets, the quality and number of playing fields at the Orioles' facilities and elsewhere in the region, and the can-do attitude of the Orioles' staff," said Bliven, Wilson Tournament director. "We are impressed by the professional facilities for the teams, which allow us to showcase talents of players for visiting scouts."

Most tournaments hosted by the Orioles also use additional venues from Bradenton to Ft. Myers. Examples include Perfect Game and Suncoast/USSSA, which combined will host 10 weekend tournaments in the region this year, generating millions of dollars in economic impact for Sarasota County and surrounding communities.

The Orioles also have earned a reputation for repeat business. For the third year, Game Day USA will bring its four-day Thanksgiving tournament to the Orioles facilities. The event draws players, coaches and families from throughout the Midwest.

Baseball tournaments, camps and clinics hosted by the Orioles in Sarasota County attract more than 25,000 participants and spectators each year. Many of these players, families and coaches travel from outside the local community for multi-day events.

A recent independent analysis commissioned by Sarasota County Government concluded that the Orioles generate approximately $89 million in annual economic impact back to taxpayers and residents. By marketing Sarasota to fans in the mid-Atlantic region, operating a year-round athletic training facility, producing entertainment and sporting events, partnering with charitable causes, and hosting and often subsidizing youth sports tournaments and activities, the Orioles demonstrate an abiding commitment to their Florida home that goes far beyond baseball.

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