It’s back! After a year’s hiatus in 2020, the ACCC Baseball Tournament returns to Ozark. The tournament gets underway at 1 p.m. Thursday with the first of two single elimination games.
“We’re glad to have it back,” said Steve Sherrill, the Director of Ozark Leisure Services. “We have a very conservative estimate this tournament generates $250,000 in revenue for the city. I checked earlier this week and the Baymont and the Microtel were already full. The Hampton Inn still had a few rooms but I’m sure they’re gone by now.”
That’s because Historic Eagle Stadium is often packed with spectators, especially on weekends. But that won’t necessarily be the case this year. Even though Covid numbers are declining, a conference mandate limits the seating capacity.
“Each team will be allotted 125 tickets each (for a total of 250) and there will be 30 general admission tickets available for each game,” said Ryan Spry of Wallace Community College. “It’s not ideal, but after last year I’m just glad we’ve got baseball back.”
“This is not the city of Ozark,” Sherrill said. “If it were up to us, we would have a packed house.”
“It’s not Wallace College either,” Spry said. “This is a conference mandate. We need to ensure the safety of all the fans, the teams, and all of the volunteers.”
Spry said there is another way fans can watch the tournament. All of the games will be streamed live on JockJive.com.
Because of the limited capacity inside the stadium, the crowd outside the stadium is expected to be even larger this year. There has always been a huge presence beyond the outfield wall at Eagle Stadium where spectators park their pickups and other vehicles to watch the game.
After each game, the stadium will be cleared so that those holding tickets to the next game can enter. In addition, players from a particular team which plays in the morning may not return to the stadium to watch later games.
“I think that’s really going to hurt us,” Sherrill said. “We have a lot of people in the surrounding area that drive to the games and don’t stay in the hotels. They just want to watch some good baseball. What we want them to do is, once they get to Ozark to go ahead and stay the entire day. That may not happen now.
“I’m just ready,” Sherrill continued. “I’m ready to get back to normal in every way we can. In the meantime, we’ll do whatever we need to do to make sure we have a good tournament this year.”