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The 2011 Kentucky State Little League Tournament did more than just kick up dust when it came to Lebanon last week. Over the course of six days, thousands of visitors streamed into the community. Whether they were refueling themselves or their vehicles, those visitors spent a lot of money while they were here.
While some businesses certainly benefited more than others, the effect of all the visitors spread throughout the community.
Becky Edlin, manager of the Lebanon Hampton Inn, said their first state tournament guests arrived July 15. The umpires working the tournament, relatives of players and a team from Ashland stayed overnight at the hotel.
"We did have a really good turnout that stayed at the hotel," she said.
Those visitors didn't just stay in their room. Edlin said she heard guests talk about going to Wal-Mart, but she also knows they got pizzas from local restaurants.
Unfortunately, not every guest who wanted to stay in Lebanon was able to do so.
Edlin said a wedding party had reserved several rooms during the weekend that the tournament started, and the hotel's 58 rooms are typically sold out Monday through Thursday each week.
If the rooms had been available, Edlin said she was confident that Little League teams would have filled the rooms. She said she personally knew of three other teams that called about rooms.
Melissa Lovely, a parent from Paintsville, said they tried to get a room in Lebanon, but they had to stay in Campbellsville instead. Other visitors said they stayed in Bardstown, Danville and Springfield, and several said they drove back-and-forth from their homes for each day of the tournament.
Regardless of where they stayed, several visitors stopped for a bite to eat while they were in town.
Greg Larimore of Oldham County said his group from North Oldham Little League ate at McDonald's and Wendy's multiple times while they were in town.
Wendy's manager Ivo Mudd Jr. said the state tournament created a steady flow of business throughout the day, rather than the typical rushes the restaurant has during lunch and dinner.
While he isn't allowed to provide dollar figures, Mudd said that Wendy's business was up more than 24 percent July 16-20 compared to that same time period last year and up 17 percent over the week before the tournament.
"That's a pretty big jump," he said.
To put it another way, he said the restaurant had 737 more customers than they had during the same time period last year, and he would certainly welcome the state tournament to return to Lebanon.
"Anytime we can get anything like that in here, it's nice," Mudd said. "It helps the economy throughout."
Fast food restaurants aren't the only places that benefited from hoards of hungry 9-12-year-old boys. Sit-down restaurants reported a boost in business as well.
Charles Mills, the owner of Chaser's, said he went to the park and handed out around 500 menus to parents sitting in the bleachers during the tournament.
"People that came in and ate here, they went back and told people they were really satisfied with the price and the food, and they sent people here to eat, also," he said.
He said the state tournament had more of an impact on his restaurant than any other event outside of the Bourbon and BBQ Musicfest and Ham Days. He estimated his business was up 15 percent during the tournament.
Felipe Contreras at Los Mariachis, said his restaurant got an even bigger boost. At one time, he said a party of 45 people stopped by the restaurant to eat.
Overall, he estimated that they were 40 percent busier than during a typical week. Even during their typically slower times, they stayed busy, according to Contreras.
"Monday night, the whole restaurant was packed," he said.
On the other end of town, Randy Turpin of Cedarwood Restaurant said he had expected to see a boost during the first weekend of the tournament, but they actually had more out-of-county guests early in the week and after the final championship games Thursday morning.
"It wasn't what we thought it was going to be, but we still had several from out of town," he said.
He said he thinks Cedarwood's location may have affected that as well, since most of the other restaurants are in other parts of the city.
At the same time, he said he was pleased with the customers who did come by his eatery.
"Everybody was polite," Turpin said. "It was nice to meet new faces."
Restaurants may have seen the biggest impact, but they weren't the only places that received customers as a result of the tournament.
Billy Corbin, the assistant manager at Wal-Mart, said they did see a good influx of visitors from throughout the state during the tournament. While it didn't lead to a major increase in sales, he said the store made sure it was well-stocked with soft drinks and snacks.
He added that the tournament was a good event for the community and he hopes they can bring it back again.
Tonya Corbett, an employee at the Murphy USA gas station, said the store had some increase in gasoline sales, but she noticed more people stopping to buy drinks and chips than usual.
While it wasn't a major increase in business, she said the store appreciated all the customers who stopped there.
While the tournament brought a lot of people and a lot of money into the community, it also required some spending by the Marion County Little League.
"It cost over $20,000 to put this event on," said Matthew Mattingly, the president of the local Little League.
Nearly half of those expenses had to do with the umpires. The league spent around $5,000 to pay the umpires to work the games and another $5,000 to cover their hotel stays during the tournament, Mattingly said. The league also had to pay for hotel rooms for district directors and other state Little League officials.
The Little League did receive some revenue from concession sales and an $8 parking fee per vehicle.
"We had some unhappy people, but more people understood charging that because they knew what it cost to put the tournament on," Mattingly said.
On Monday, Jackie Lanham, the secretary/treasurer for the Marion County Little League, said they are waiting on a few bills, but she estimated the total expenses would be between $20,000 and $25,000.
"We are thinking we are going to have a profit, but at this point we don't know how much," Lanham said. "We are hoping for $5,000."
Mattingly added that any profits will go back to improving the Marion County baseball and softball programs.
He and Lanham said local officials have spent two years preparing for the tournament, and they both stressed that the tournament wouldn't have been possible without a lot of help.
Mattingly, who is also the park activities director for the City of Lebanon, said the city has been a great partner throughout the process. He added that the park employees put in 15 to 17 hour days throughout the tournament to make sure everything was in order.
Community sponsors helped with expenses, and Lanham said at least 200 volunteers assisted in a variety of ways.
"When people came, they would stay longer than they had signed up," she said.
That hard work was reflected in the numerous compliments Mattingly received about the fields, the cleanliness of the park and how smoothly the tournament ran.
"I think it might have been the best run state tournament," Mattingly said.
And local officials reiterated how much they appreciated everyone who contributed in any way to making the tournament a success.
"The Little League board wants to thank everybody that came out and helped," Mattingly said. "This is something that couldn't have been done without the help of the community."