Photo by Caleb Motsinger
The Metro East Bears bear down during the first inning of Thursday’s game at Lloyd Hopkins Field. Gordon Moore Park in Alton will play host to the 2015-16 American Legion Baseball Great Lakes Regional Tournament.
ALTON – Mayor Brant Walker will announce plans for the city’s next Grand Slam today at the city’s Fireworks on the Mississippi Party.
“On behalf of the city, we couldn’t be more proud to bring this event to Alton,” Walker said.
AdVantage News, the city of Alton, and the national organization of American Legion Baseball have teamed to host the American Legion Baseball Great Lakes Regional Tournament at Gordon Moore Park in Alton.
Two regional championships will be hosted over a two-year period from 2015 to 2016.
The mayor will make the official announcement from the stage of the Liberty Bank Alton Amphitheater just before the Fireworks on the Mississippi show on the Riverfront.
This year’s Great Lakes Regional plays out Aug. 7-11 at Indiana State University’s Bob Warn Field in Terre Haute, Ind. Alton then gets its chance to shine from Aug. 6-10 in 2015 and Aug. 4-8 in 2016.
“This is more evidence that Greater Alton is an American destination,” AdVantage News Vice President Eric McRoy said.Mirroring the American Legion’s commitment to active citizenship and community involvement, the organization’s baseball league was founded in 1925, spearheaded by Department Commander Frank G. McCormick and Major John L. Griffith.
Few changes have been made to the league over the years. Sixty-four teams still play at eight regional sites, with eight teams going on to the World Series.In 2000, also the legion’s 75th anniversary, Alton snagged its first stint as host of the American Legion World Series at Hopkins Field.
When Dennis Sharp of American Legion Post 126 executed the plan for a World Series here in 2000, Danville, Calif., defeated Paducah, Ky., in the finals.In 2015, the organization returns to Alton and celebrates its 90th year. Sharp will be working with AdVantage News and the city of Alton to put on the event. He said Greater Alton is the “perfect and proven place” to hold a national baseball tournament.
“One of the reasons we were chosen is that Alton and Gordon Moore Park hosted the regional world series in 2000,” Department of Illinois Baseball Chairman, Fifth Division, Don Wallis said. “I am very happy we were selected.”
The American Legion will be designating a team of division directors to handle practicalities, including tournament information, tickets, concessions, housing, maintenance, transportation, parking, decorations, and parade and ceremony arrangements.
“AdVantage News will handle all of the marketing and the promotional side of the event, and also will secure all sponsorships and develop the official program for the Regional,” AdVantage News Director of Sales Johnny Aguirre said. “The city of Alton will provide the facilities at Gordon Moore, and the American Legion is taking care of running the tournament and providing the manpower to get all of that accomplished.
“This is truly a citywide cooperation between all involved to help secure the Regional bid and put on (this event).”
The event is anticipated to be a major boost to the local economy, with an estimated 400 hotel rooms needed for players and families. Area restaurants also hope to benefit from the influx of tourists in the area, and Wallis says it is safe to plan for hundreds of spectators to show up for the games.
Through the Alton Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau, Brett Stawar has been directly involved since the early planning stages, as well.
“(They) will be looking into lodging for the event, getting pricing on the hotels and looking at its effects on the local economy,” Aguirre said.
“With the preliminary numbers we have coming in, this tournament is estimated to have a $750,000 economic impact,” Walker said. “This is no longer just ‘little old Alton.’ It just goes to show that if you want a better future, then build it.”
The 704-acre park, located on the south side of Illinois Route 140, consists of eight tennis courts, 10 ball diamonds, a 27-hole golf course, six picnic areas, six play areas, 11 soccer/football fields, restrooms, concessions, bleachers and an interactive children’s fountain.
The park also features a nature trail and memorial areas such as the Worker’s Statue, Freedom Shrine, Hosta Garden, Rose Garden with fountain and Veteran’s Fountain, and boasts a 13-acre fishing lake adjacent to the Oriental Garden and waterfall pond, stocked by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
Gordon Moore has another location on the north side of Illinois 140 that contains 10 soccer/football fields and 25 acres of the Heartland Prairie.