By Eric Bourque
A year-and-a-half from now the Canadian National Oldtimers Baseball Federation will bring its championship tournament back to Yarmouth.
Scheduled for early August 2015, the event is expected to feature at least 32 teams and will have an economic impact of “upwards of a $1 million,” said Darryl LeBlanc, chair of the local tournament host committee, who was at the Grand Hotel Wednesday afternoon to announce that Yarmouth had been chosen to host the event next summer.
This will be the fourth time Yarmouth hosts the tournament, the event having been held here in 1994, 2006 and 2009.
There will be four divisions: 35-and-over, 44-and-over, 50-and-over and 57-and-over.
The Yarmouth Red Knights won the over-35 title when the tournament was last held here in 2009. The Pleasant Valley Lakers won the 50-plus championship at last year’s tournament in Edmonton.
“We know that Yarmouth will be well represented at this championship and a contender to win on home soil,” LeBlanc said.
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The official announcement of Yarmouth’s selection as tournament host for 2015 was organized by the Yarmouth and Acadian Shores Tourism Association, which was involved in the effort to bring the event here.
Yarmouth, LeBlanc said, “has always done a great job of putting this event together not only from the tournament perspective but also a social one, showing off our region to the rest of Canada.”
Various activities are being planned for tournament participants, including a lobster supper on the waterfront.
Tournament games will be played at up to six different ball fields, with Gateway Park and Veterans Field being the main venues. The Rodd Grand Hotel will be the tournament’s host hotel.
Organizers will be looking for sponsors and volunteers, LeBlanc said.
The budget for putting on the tournament probably will be between $40,000 and $50,000, he said.
LeBlanc was involved in the 2006 and ’09 tournaments that were held here and he said others who were involved in those tournaments are back on board for 2015.
After Wednesday’s formalities, he spoke a bit more about the tournament’s anticipated economic impact.
“For example, in 2006 we had 32 teams,” he said. “There was actually almost 800 people that came to the area and a lot of them spent extra time here afterwards, made a vacation and toured the area.”
Paul Gould, who has a long history of involvement in this tournament – and who was a member of the Pleasant Valley team that won the 50-plus division last year in Alberta – said feedback from players from away who have come to Yarmouth for past championships has been very good.
“They look forward to coming here,” he said. “They have a good time. They love the hospitality.”
Said John Cunningham, YASTA’s chairman, “We have a great reputation for hosting successful events and this event builds on the successes we have already had.”
As LeBlanc put it, “Hospitality is what we do … and we do it well.”