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Governor’s Cup big boost for city, league

[08/03/01] For the Vicksburg Baseball Association, the Governor’s Cup is more than just a fun, summer-ending tournament for hometown teams. It’s also the organization’s biggest fund-raiser, and helps keep the program going through the rest of the year.

VBA president Stan Woodson said the organization expects to make more than $10,000 from this year’s Governor’s Cup, which started last weekend and continues Friday night with games in six age groups.

“Our league sponsorships and entry fees pay for uniforms and things like that. We’re able to keep (fees) to a minimum by having fund-raisers like this,” Woodson said, adding that last year’s tournament paid for most of this year’s operations.

“We didn’t go into the end-of-the-year crunch as bad this year as we did last year.

“If we had not had a successful Governor’s Cup last year we made about $8,000 we’d have been sweating it.”

Most of that money will find its way back into the program in the form of uniforms, equipment, field materials and new facilities.

This year, Woodson said the VBA would pay for a central air conditioning system for a new concession stand, as well as improvements to the dugouts.

Vicksburg Parks and Recreation Director Craig Upton said the organization was a big help to his department, which handles maintenance at Halls Ferry Park.

“It’s a worthwhile cause because you have a volunteer group running that baseball league,” Upton said. “We could hire a person and pay them $20,000 to run that program, so that is a big help to the city.”

It’s also a big help to city business owners. With 62 teams participating in the tournament over the two weekends, nearly 2,000 people from outside Vicksburg will visit the city and spend more than $500,000.

“We generally say they spend around $100 per person per day. And that’s for everything gas, food, lodging … That’s the industry standard,” said Lenore Barkley, executive director of the Vicksburg Convention and Visitors’ Bureau.

Although the money is pouring in for everyone involved in the tournament, Woodson said there was little chance of making it even larger in the future. Not because the desire isn’t there, but because the fields aren’t.

This weekend, games will begin at 9 a.m. and go on until at least 9:30 p.m.

“We’ve got a little more we bring in, but we’ve just about maxed out what we can handle with the number of fields we’ve got,” Woodson said.

“We’re running at at least 95 percent of the capacity of what we can do. The volunteers do a good job of bringing teams in.”