Combine two tournaments into one grand event

Published 4:47 pm Tuesday, March 24, 2009

According to the latest weather forecasts, we have a 40-percent and 50-percent chance of rain Friday and Saturday, respectively, the two days for which the Chilton County softball tournament was scheduled. So, there’s a chance the tournament could be cancelled or postponed, like the county baseball tournament was two weekends ago.

While the players, coaches and fans of county baseball and softball might see these rainouts as bad luck, the weather instead might offer us an opportunity to try something groundbreaking.

The baseball tournament has been rescheduled for April 13-14, and, if the softball tournament is postponed, I say schedule it for the same two days. That’s right, we could have the first Chilton County Baseball/Softball Extravaganza.

OK, so this plan probably isn’t plausible for this year; I’m just so dang excited about the possibilities. The Extravaganza would have to be held in Clanton, for the first few years anyway—not to give the Chilton County teams any kind of advantage but because it’s a central location, the largest city in the county, and the baseball and softball facilities are adjacent to each other.

But your main question right now is probably something like, “Why hold these tournaments in conjunction with each other?” Well, the response is, “Why not?” If the purpose of the tournaments is to entice people to come out to the event, pay admission and pay for concessions while giving county athletes the opportunity to compete for a meaningful honor, then the Extravaganza seems a no-brainer. And the event would do something the current formats used for the tournaments can’t do: bring each school’s baseball and softball support bases together in one place for one event.

Imagine watching your school’s baseball team play at Jack Hayes Field then walking between rows of vendors down to the softball fields to watch the girls play. That brings us to another point: the economic possibilities. Whoever took the lead in organizing the event would need to work with the Chilton County Chamber of Commerce and the appropriate city council in an effort to encourage vendors to set up shop at the park. And they would. Maybe have a parade kick off the event after school on Friday, and Chilton County would have a new holiday. Why not have Kissel Entertainment bring in some rides? This event would be unprecedented in the state and maybe the country. Imagine the media coverage (The Clanton Advertiser would provide the best, of course).

Now, the competition. The winning school would be the one that ended up with the best record in both sports. So, a softball team and its fans would have the incentive to support its school’s baseball team, and vice versa. Maybe the two schools with the best record in round-robin competition could play a two-game championship round with margin of victory probably being the determining factor.

The possibilities are endless. All it would take is a host school deciding that, when it comes to gate receipts, two sports are better than one.