Livingston tourism officials are trying to brand the parish as a youth sports hot spot by luring softball players from around the region to play tournaments in Colyell.
Though schedules have not been finalized, there are plans to bring tournaments to the parish almost every weekend during the March through July season, Sherry Jacob said. Jacob is the area director for the Fastpitch America Softball Association but said she also is working with a few other leagues. There also are tournaments in September and November.
Some of the tournaments may be moving to Colyell from places like Covington or Mandeville, said J.T. Taylor, assistant director of the Livingston Parish Convention & Visitor’s Bureau.
On average, 25 teams attend a weekend tournament, and with players coming from across Louisiana and Mississippi, they’ll need places to stay, he noted.
The parish hasn’t always encouraged visitors to stay locally. And while Walker and Denham Springs have several hotels, teams driving in from the east may just pull up in Hammond, since Livingston doesn’t have many other lodging options aside from RV camps, he said.
His office is looking to work with hotels and shops to see if they can offer special rates to persuade players and parents to stay at local lodgings. Doing so would drive additional business to area shops and restaurants such as Juban Crossing, which lies off the interstate between Colyell and Denham Springs, where most of the parish’s hotels are located.
Taylor said he hopes to work with Southeastern Louisiana University economists to determine the financial impact of the tournaments. Bill Joubert, director of the Economic and Business Development Department, said he has spoken with Taylor and would lend his help, but his department had not yet officially begun researching the matter.
The new tournaments by themselves are unlikely to create a demand for a hotel in the area of Satsuma or the town of Livingston because the games don’t provide a year-round stream of visitors, Taylor said. However, when combined with incoming industrial sites and increased traffic, a company may determine it would make sense to open a new place to stay, Taylor said.
“I-12 is jam-packed with cars every day,” he said.
Recently re-elected Parish President Layton Ricks frequently has spoken of his desire to begin work on a convention center in the middle of the parish before his term expires.
Jacob said she began to look at hosting more tournaments in Livingston Parish a year or two ago when she learned of improvements at the Colyell Community Park.
The park hosted four successful softball tournaments organized with Jacob last year, she said. The site is relatively small, with only four fields, though it is not far from the Livingston town park system, which has nine and is thinking of expanding, Taylor said.
Both sites have hosted tournaments, as has the Live Oak recreation district in Watson, he said. The parish already hosts a number of youth baseball tournaments through groups such as the United States Specialty Sports Association.
In the planned softball games, the Colyell park and local host teams will be able to collect money from concessions and gate fees during the tournaments to pay for equipment and to fund their own trips, Jacob said. The double-elimination tournaments may include girls from the 8-and-under division through high school age.
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