Popular softball tournament hits Lake Norman area
by Staff Writer
The Lake Norman area has pulled off a softball coup.
Visit Lake Norman, partnering with Huntersville’s Park and Recreation Department and Visit Charlotte, is hosting the Top Gun Sports Softball Summer World Series through Sunday, July 17.
Bradford Park is the main site, but games will be played at various other parks, including some in Concord and Charlotte.
The tournament, which began July 13, is estimated to generate $1.5 million in direct visitor spending.
More than 110 girls softball teams, in age groups from 8 to 18, are scheduled to compete. In tow will be hordes of parents, siblings and relatives as fans and money-spending visitors.
Teams have traveled from Ohio, West Virginia, Georgia and both Carolinas.
“We’re already seeing some great hotel (occupancy) numbers as far as preliminary feedback goes,” said Travis Dancy, sports marketing manager for Visit Lake Norman. “Basically it’s a weeklong event, as opposed to just your typical weekend tournament. We’re very excited and elated to be selected as a host.”
Bradford Park, with five well-groomed fields, is Huntersville’s newest and largest park.
Competition is fierce to host such a large event.
Visit Lake Norman’s bid presentation was so effective last winter that Top Gun Sports awarded both the summer and winter World Series events to the area.
Dancy traveled to Rocky Mount, N.C., to make the formal bid in December 2010. Top Gun also had offers from Cary, Cabarrus County, Raleigh and Rock Hill, S.C., among others.
This will be the first time a national Top Gun Sports event will be held at Lake Norman.
“Top Gun Sports is very excited to be able to play in the Huntersville/Lake Norman area this season,” said Robin Phillips, Top Gun Sports’ softball director. “We look forward to two of the biggest events of the season coming to town and hope to continue our relationship with Visit Lake Norman for many years to come.”
Top Gun Sports organizes softball and baseball tournaments year-round throughout the Carolinas and has more than 6,000 athletes and coaches participating. It’s been in operation since 1981.
Dancy said previous success hosting tournaments helped land the two Top Gun Sports events.
“We hosted the National Softball Assocation (NSA) Class A World Series last July, which was huge,” he said. “We used Bradford Park and North Mecklenburg Park for that.”
The Winter World Series also will include both those Huntersville facilities, which Dancy said, “will have even a larger footprint here come November.
“We were very fortunate to get these events,” Dancy said. “Top Gun Sports has a strong commitment to providing their players quality tournament hosts. We are honored that VLN was selected as the host with so many other areas vying for these prestigious tournaments.”