East Wenatchee To Continue Support Of Softball Tournament
The City of East Wenatchee is using $10,000 in lodging tax money to help finance a major softball tournament.
East Wenatchee Events Coordinator Trina Elmes says the tournament is organized by the Greater Wenatchee Girls Softball Association.
"They are a local fast pitch youth softball league that services the whole valley," said Elmes.
The city council has approved funding for the group's annual "Sterling Invite", which takes over Memorial Day weekend.
The tournament has three categories for girls between ages 9 and14 – 10U, 12U and 14U.
It draws teams from across the Northwest that fill-up area hotels over the weekend.
"They have 54 teams, three of which are local," Elmes said. "The rest all come from the rest of the state, Idaho, Oregon, Alaska this year, and even Canada."
The tournament has been a staple over Memorial Day weekend since 2002.
It’s played on 11 baseball fields in the area – Four fields at Walla Walla Point Park, three fields at Hydro Park and four fields at Eastmont Community Park.
The city’s contribution covers about a one-fourth of the tournament’s expenses of $40,000, with the balance coming from registration fees paid by the teams that enter the tournament.
By far the largest expense is umpires and the cost to lodging them in hotels. At $21,250.00, umpire fees alone account for more than half the tournament’s budget. Umpire hotel stays cost $5,000.
The Greater Wenatchee Girls Softball Association was started in the late 1990’s.
The tournament began within the next five-years as a fundraiser for the Association's rec leagues.
Association board member Mark Lloyd took over the operation from 2002-2006. Another board member, Ken Krause, ran the tournament from 2006 until 2010.
Lloyd and Krause then joined together to run the tournament independently of the Association until 2019, when board president Jason Heinz took over its operation and returned it as a wing of the Association.