Softball tournament continues legacy

According to data compiled by the Fort Dodge Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Iowa High School Girls State Softball Tournament is an economic home run for the community.

Each year, it brings about 25,000 people to the city, according to the Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Those visitors collectively spend about $1.3 million, the bureau reported.

That $1.3 million isn’t the end of the tournament’s economic impact, however. The money the visitors spend helps to pay wages and salaries and generate profits for businesses. Much of that money is later spent locally. The bottom line, according to the Convention and Visitors Bureau, is an indirect economic impact of $4 million.

As a tremendous boon for the community, it is fitting that the Harlan and Hazel Rogers Sports Complex will receive several upgrades before next year’s tournament.

A grandstand project that is slated to increase overall capacity by nearly 1,000 seats on Diamonds 1 and 2 will begin soon, with a target finish date of June 1, 2015.

Lori Branderhorst, Fort Dodge’s Parks and Recreation director, confirmed that the $590,000 in upgrades will be presented to the City Council on Monday. A center bleacher area is scheduled for installation directly behind home plate on Diamonds 1 and 2. They are going to flank the current structures, which will be refurbished – along with the bleachers on baseball Diamond 3 – in the weeks following the conclusion of the ’14 tourney.

An updated media facility is designed to perch atop the middle of the new structure as well on both softball fields. The center bleacher area could seat as many as 400 spectators on Diamond 1 and 340 on Diamond 2.

These improvements will ensure that the tournament continues to occupy a world-class establishment – and that the Rogers complex remains a showpiece of Fort Dodge.

The Messenger again commends the efforts of those who continue to work to make the tournament a resounding success.