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Softball World Series comes to Portland, as do tourism dollars

    When the Little League Softball World Series gets under way Thursday at Alpenrose Dairy in Southwest Portland, it will mark the final chapter of this summer’s championship odyssey for 10 teams of 11- and 12-year-old softball players.

    For Portland, it could mean a boost to the economy, according to Drew Mahalic of the Oregon Sports Authority.

    “It’s hard to calculate an exact total, but with its strong attendance and teams coming in from all over the world, coupled with the national exposure, it would easily equate to in excess of $1 million,” Mahalic said.

    The sports authority hasn’t done the type of survey necessary to put hard evidence behind the number, but Mahalic said comparing the softball tournament to similar events that were extensively surveyed makes him feel safe with the $1 million number. And despite a sputtering economy, family members of players have come along for the ride, boosting hotel bookings for the tournament past those of last year, a tournament official said.

    Among the unquantifiable components of Mahalic’s $1 million equation is the potential boon to the tourism market of Portland, boosted by the national broadcast of the semifinal and final round games on ESPN2, available in more than 98 million homes.

    Mahalic bases his belief in the value of that exposure by noting that the ESPN coverage frequently shows “cut-away” shots of Portland as well as the Alpenrose grounds. The cumulative effect of these images on the audience equates to “exposure you simply can’t buy,” he said. Mahalic said the tournament is among the few events in Oregon each year shown live on an ESPN network.

    — Excerpt from The Oregonian, August 12, 2009


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