Hawaiian Hitfest baseball expects millions in metro economic impact this weekend

SHAWNEE, Kan. -- The metro takes on a Polynesian vibe this weekend.

Organizers of the Hawaiian Hitfest Baseball Tournament claim their event is the biggest baseball tournament in the world.

Don't bother with the surfboards. Say Aloha with bats and balls this weekend.

Tournament organizers said they're bringing over 1,000 youth baseball and softball teams to the metro this weekend.

Jeremy McDowell, who operates Midwest Sports Productions, said his group estimates $2.6 million in business comes to the metro as a result.

McDowell's company provided video clips, which show dugouts decorated in the Hawaiian flair meant to make the tournament fun. The Hitfest also includes dance contests and spirit competitions.

Most of the tournament's games are held on diamonds in Johnson County, but there are also games played in the metro's Northland.

McDowell said this tournament accounts for as many as 40,000 hotel nights each year.

"I'm blessed," McDowell said Friday. "I love it because I get to see over 1.2 million people come through our gates. When I see that annually, I get to see a huge impact made on families."

Those families visiting the metro will also be hungry and looking for stuff to do between baseball and softball games.

Scotty Owens, a regional manager with Jimmy John's, is one of several major sponsors for the Hawaiian Hitfest.

Owens said by the time those families arrive, Jimmy John's has already connected with them via email, making them offers and advertising tournament-exclusive specials.

"All of their teams are going to order big orders all at once, either before or right after the game. The parents who are coming to this? They're going to need to eat too," Owens said.

Other merchants said it's hard to measure how much business they see as a result of the Hawaiian Hitfest.

Local managers at DBat, the baseball training facility, offered this perspective: Since their business opened three years ago, one Hitfest weekend gave them their biggest single day of business yet.

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