The Little League All-Star State Baseball Tournament rolled into Ishpeming this past weekend and the fresh set of faces has given the area a bit of a financial boost.
Sixteen teams, made up of more than 200 players and their families, took the area by storm last Thursday. Since then, parking lots have been filled with cars from all over the state sporting signs of encouragement for their local team. Thirteen of the visiting Little League squads hail from downstate and their support has helped the local economy in a big way.
“Largely, up here, we see a boom around special events that happen in the summer, but nowhere near this weekend. We wouldn’t see the 1,200 to 1,500 people that had come up from downstate. There were some other things going on in Marquette County that might have increased that number, but this was definitely a huge boom for the city of Ishpeming,” explained Kori Tossava, the Executive Director at the Greater Ishpeming Negaunee Chamber of Commerce.
The surge was felt nearly everywhere, as restaurants, hotels, and even gas stations saw a large spike in sales. But none of this would have been possible without the Ishpeming Little League Association.
The chance to host the tournament doesn’t come around very often. It rotates between the sixteen districts throughout the state, and Ishpeming’s district spans from Marquette all the way to Ironwood. So, last year, they jumped on the opportunity.
“We were asked at the end of last season whether or not we wanted to have it. We, as board, agreed that we would do it, and it’s been going on ever since. There has been a lot of fundraising, a lot of community support with donations, and a lot of help bringing supplies like the road gravel lining the paths here at the fields,” noted Mark Olgren, a member of the Ishpeming Little League Association.
They even put in a new batting cage to help kick off the Championship Weekend. The tournament still has two days left with the final game slated for 10 a.m. on Wednesday morning.