Sliding in to economic success
Photo: Video by fox4now.com
CREATED May. 15, 2013
FORT MYERS, Fla. - The best of the best in Florida high school baseball are in Fort Myers looking to put another year on their banners as state champs.
For this tournament, winning is the ultimate goal. But, perhaps the biggest winner of all will be Lee County's economy.
Championships are on the menu at JetBlue Park.
"This is it, this is what we've always dreamed of doing and we're there now," said Leslie Rak. "This is great."
Rak is like hundreds of other Florida parents this week cheering on their kids as they compete to be the best in their division.
"The actual stadium here and the environment is amazing," said another mom, Christine Cannon. "The field is huge, awesome. I'm sure it gets the boys to feeling they are playing on a bigger stage than what they're normally used to."
For the first time ever Lee County is playing host to the Florida High School Athletic Association's Baseball Finals.
"It was absolutely fantastic, it could not have been better if it was a professional game," said Barbara Taylor who is here watching her grandson play.
Player Andrew Catalano is enjoying his experience.
"I love it!" exclaimed Catalano. "It looks similar to Fenway."
Whether you are a baseball fan or not, it's hard not to cheer for the money coming into the county.
"Primarily they fill our hotel rooms, they eat in our restaurants, they visit attractions and a lot of people will discover our area for the first time," said Jeff Mielke with the Lee County Sports Authority. "They may not have vacationed here before and they discover it through a sports event and may turn out to be future vacationers."
Mielke estimates all of these pop flys and home runs will bat in $1.8 million to the local economy.
For hundreds of families it's a moment meant for the scrapbook.
For Lee County, a moment great for the pocketbook.
"The field is pristine and clean, nothing like the high school fields you see; its really amazing," player Dustin Hagy said.
Two local teams are playing in the finals; Bishop Verot and Estero.
The finals continue at JetBlue Park until May 23rd.