The Grande Prairie Fastball Association, or Pirates, is seeing more people coming out to play ball, and it’s bringing more people to the region.

The provincial U13D and U15D tournament was granted to the Pirates, which will see teams from all over Alberta and the Yukon and Northwest Territories attend.

“We could very well see over 3,000 people attend our event, just families showing up to support their kids,” said Rhi Bradley, Pirates fundraising director and sponsorship co-ordinator.

About 24 teams are expected at the tournament, which could bring around $300,000 to the region, according to a Sport Tourism Canada’s Sport Tourism Economic Assessment Model.

The city granted $5,000 in sponsorship to the Pirates and a gift-in-kind of the South Bear Creek ball diamonds. 

“This is one of those attraction items that bring people here and shows off our great city,” said coun. Mike O’Connor.

The County of Grande Prairie has also granted the Pirates $5,000 towards the tournament.  

“Keep in mind that in addition to the players, the families coming, the coaching staff, we also are bringing in for the provincials alone approximately 30 umpires from out of town,” said Pirates Vice President Jasmine Broad.

“The city will reap the financial benefits of this because those people need to come here in order to make this work.”

Bradley said the hope is that a successful provincial tournament will lead to future tournaments coming to the city, including the Western Provincial or national events. 

Minor ball in Grande Prairie has seen growth, from 40 girls in 2020 to over 275 children this upcoming season; the men’s fastball team is also growing now with over 50 members. 

The men’s league will also be having a tournament in June, seeing international teams coming to the city, said Bradley. 

“There are a couple of teams from New York (and) there was talk about some teams from New Zealand as well attending.”

Bradley said the men’s tournament would bring in about 32 teams for that tournament. 

By Jesse Boily, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on May 11, 2023

This item reprinted with permission from   Town & Country News   Beaverlodge, Alberta

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