FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                   

Contact:           Pete Winton, Lee County Administration, (239) 335-2777

                        D.T. Minich, Visitor & Convention Bureau, 338-3500



FORT MYERS, Fla. (April 11, 2002) – It sounds almost like alphabet soup when it comes to baseball and softball for this summer’s line up of incoming events: AAU, ASA, ISA, PAL, UPIBL, all means substantial economic impact to Lee County during its value season. 

In the summer of 2002, the Lee County Visitor and Convention Bureau (VCB), the county’s lead agency for sport event procurement, will see the reward for years of positioning itself as a premiere sports destination.  Along with local industry partners, both public and private, Lee County will host a myriad of tournaments. 

Collectively, these sporting events will bring more than 250 teams and an estimated $2.9 million in economic impact to the local community (Figures are based on per person expenditures assuming all players are from out of town and travel with at least one other person).  They include: 

§         In May, the county will host the inaugural Roy Hobbs Memorial Day Baseball Tournament, which will attract an estimated 12 teams to Lee County.  This event is a result of the success of the annual Roy Hobbs World’s Series that has been held each November in Lee County since 1992. 

§         May 17-19 will bring the Independent Softball Association (ISA) Half Century Men’s 50 + Softball Tournament to Lee County.  This established event is expected to attract an estimated 60 teams. 

§         June will bring three substantial events to the area. 

Ø      The first will be the “Perfect Game,” an event managed in a showcase format where the nation’s best baseball players are invited to test their skills.  Nearly 300 of the nation’s top baseball prospects are scheduled to attend.  The VCB is working with this organization to add four additional events to the annual calendar to augment two existing events that have been established in Lee County for the past three years.  Perfect Game is the No. 1 scout-reporting agency for baseball in the United States.  This event will take place June 8-9. 

Ø      The ISA Easton National Invitational Tournament will return to Lee County, June 7-9, for the second year.  This event will attract an estimated 40 teams. 

Ø      The Amateur Softball Association (ASA) will roll into town the weekend of June 28-30 for a National Qualifier. 

§         The Amateur Athletic Union’s (AAU) 18-year-old and under National Baseball Championships will be guests of Lee County July 13-19.  Through the efforts of the VCB, this event has been awarded to Lee County through 2003. 

§         Union Printers International Baseball League (UPIBL) will visit Lee County for the seventh straight year. This event will bring seven teams to Lee County.  This event has been played since 1908, except for the six years during World War I and II and is comprised of the nation’s largest typographical printers unions who come together to play. 

§         The National Police Athletic League (PAL) will roll into Lee County for its National Baseball World Series. An estimated 20-30 teams will participate in this event July 27-Aug. 3. 

§         August will bring another ASA Coed State National Championship, which will bring an estimated 30 teams to Lee County, Aug. 9-11. 

§         And lastly, the AAU will have its annual Gulf Coast Invitational, which will bring Florida’s baseball elite to Lee County for an estimated 60-to-80-team tournament, Aug. 30 -Sept. 2. 

The mission of the Visitor and Convention Bureau is to increase tourism in the off season (Post Easter to February 1) and to increase awareness about Lee County as a vacation destination.  The VCB is funded through a 3 percent bed tax on room nights less than six months in length.  Nearly 1.9 million tourists visit Lee County each year.  The VCB is advised by the nine-member Tourist Development Council, which is appointed by the Board of County Commissioners and oversees the entire tourism and development fund, provides direction on programs and budget, and reviews quarterly VCB expenditures. 

Over the last four years, the TDC and the county’s Sports Marketing Program has funneled more than $500,000 to local organizations and venues to promote and market sporting events.