KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. – On Wednesday, Steen Sports Park Executive Director, Scott White reported to the park’s Board of Directors that the abbreviated 2020 tournament schedule resulted in over $3.47 million in indirect and induced economic impact for the local economy.
193 teams participated in youth baseball and softball tournaments at the park with 185 of those teams coming from out of the region. “Most of the teams were out of the Central Valley and Bay Areas of California,” said White. “However, we saw teams from all over Oregon, Washington and Nevada also.”
While in town, teams spent approximately $2 million on hotels, food, and fuel. White noted that park staff and volunteers were routinely asked what visitors could do while not at the park. “I pointed them to Crater Lake, the Lava Beds, the bowling alley, and the putt putt course at Running Y,” said White. “We have no way of calculating those recreational metrics outside of the park at this time, but I am confident the economic impact is even greater than we can report due to those other activities.”
President of the park, Mike Reeder expressed both joy and disbelief with the success of the events during these unprecedented times of uncertainty. “I really can’t believe it. Like all other business, we were worried when COVID threw a grenade on our 2020 plans and we weren’t sure how we were going to get through our primary revenue season.” Reeder also highlighted the unanticipated economic impact for the community. “I am thrilled of what the park provided for the local economy. At the end of the day, we are a community park. We recognize the impact felt by our local businesses due to the pandemic, and we genuinely hope that the over 7,000 people that visited our community in the last two months helped these businesses get through these tough times.”
Christy Mullinix, General Manager at the Running Y, also acknowledged the added boon during these uncertain times. “In a year when things have been very concerning for businesses losing revenue in the face of a pandemic, it was very welcoming to get a nice added piece of business when we would not ordinarily see one,” said Mullinix. “In addition to the sold out room revenue we received, we also saw an increase in revenues in our Ruddy Duck restaurant, more people playing on our putting course and buying merchandise at the golf shop, and more traffic and purchases of merchandise at the sports center. I can only imagine that our properties were just a small piece of the pie of the business these teams brought to the entire Klamath community.”
White explained the level of detail the park went to make these tournaments safe for the visitors. “We hung countless social distancing signs, we required masks indoors and only allowed two people in the restrooms at all times. We were disinfecting regularly and only sold prepackaged goods for concessions. For the most part, I think our visitors understood and complied with the guidelines pretty well. I am happy that I have not heard of one reported case resulting from our tournaments.”
Dave Steen, founder and whom the park is named after, revered at the smiles and cheers that took place at the park after a long and quiet year. “This country experienced a silent spring never seen and that no kid should ever have to endure. The kids needed this,” referring to the over 700 games played at the park this season. “Park staff went to extreme lengths to make these tournaments safe and enjoyable.”
Steen added that he caught management at the park in the middle of the night cleaning bathrooms, fixing up the fields and arriving back at the park before the sun came up to set up for the day. “We were committed to making this happen for the kids and this community. That’s what it’s all about. This community should be very proud of what we were able to accomplish this year.”
In addition to the success experienced at the park in the last two months, the park was awarded a $25K Klamath County Tourism Grant aimed at improving park infrastructure. “We have learned that there is an immediate need to revamp our web presence so a portion of this award will be going to upgrade and maintain our website,” noted Reeder. The park will also be improving the general aesthetics of the park and maintenance upgrades to park infrastructure.
In the coming weeks, the park will be working to make progress on its long-range strategic plan for additional park upgrades and improvements. Furthermore, the park will be announcing its 2021 tournament schedule. “We’ve already locked in seven fastpitch softball tournaments and we are working to match that with both baseball and adult softball,” said White. “We are very excited for what 2021 will bring for our local teams, our community, and the great partnerships we’ve built with teams across the west.