Keizer Little League Park is going to be quite a bit busier for a few weekends next year. Keizer Little League, which manages the park under a contract with the city, recently signed a contract to bring four two-day tournaments to the park. The organizations hosting the tournaments are Cherry City Baseball Club in association with West Coast Premier (WCP) Tournaments.
“What is most important in youth sports right now is quality facilities. A decade ago, that wouldn’t even have been a consideration, but KLL Park is an easy, easy place to access and could become a hub for years to come,” said Drew Reiners, founder and CEO of WCP. “Our hope is that these tournaments can put some funding into the field that will make it even better.”
Cherry City Baseball Club focuses on competitive travel play and hopes to attract a wide variety of teams from throughout the state and, possibly, throughout the Pacific Northwest.
“All four tournaments will be Saturdays and Sundays,” said Dan Hughes, president of Cherry City Baseball. “Historically speaking, we’ll be looking to attract 40 to 100 teams to each tournament and we’ve got a lot of positive attention already.”
The second WCP tournament at KLL Park, titled May Melee, will likely be the largest draw. So many teams participate that competition is spread over parks in Keizer, Salem and Albany. For such a large tournament, having a facility with well-kept fields of multiple sizes was a big factor when the groups chose KLL Park.
Cherry City Baseball has hosted tournaments at KLL Park in the past, but they were more limited in scope.
“In those tournaments, we had about 10 teams each in three divisions. In some of the upcoming tournaments, we’ll be adding travel teams in 8U all the way up to 14U,” Hughes said.
He said KLL Park’s has an added benefit for local teams that often gets overlooked.
“There’s a lot of grandparents who want the opportunity to watch the kids play and having a place right in Salem-Keizer is going to be a big opportunity for them,” Hughes said.
Reiners added that having a hotel and, soon, a destination burger joint in Keizer Station sweetened the pot.
Signing outside tournaments to use the fields at KLL Park is seen, by some, as the way forward for the complex as a whole. Members of Keizer’s two prominent youth ball leagues, Keizer Little League and McNary Youth Baseball, have been discussing for months how to create a system that treats both fairly and raises money for the complex and the leagues themselves.
The final meeting of the group was slated for Wednesday, Nov. 20, past press time.
It is still unknown how parking for major tournaments that bring in numerous outside vehicles will be handled. Community volunteers, either connected with the youth leagues or from the public at large, will also need to be wrangled up to staff the concession stand during tournament weekends with longer-than-usual hours of operation.