Dixie Youth Tourney Expected To Draw Thousands

Noah Jones (13) and JaQuan McKinnis celebrate Whiteville’s 11-1 victory over South Columbus in the final games of the 2021 Dixie Youth Baseball Tournament. The tournament returns this Saturday, July 9. DAILY RECORD PHOTO / ELIOT DUKE

By Rudy Coggins
Dunn Daily Record

DUNN – For the second consecutive year, officials are rolling out the red carpet for 22 teams who will battle for supremacy in the 2022 Dixie Youth Baseball Division 2 Majors and Division 2 AAA tournaments. The event is expected to draw dozens of families and thousands of dollars to Harnett County.

Play begins Saturday morning at Tyler Park.

“It’s a big deal because we’re bringing in a lot people from around the state, so it’s not just local people,” said Brian McNeill, recreation director for Dunn’s Parks and Recreation Department. “We’ll get a lot of people staying at the hotels and they’ll probably do some shopping. It’s not just money coming into the parks and recreation department as a whole, but also to the city.”

McNeill said Dunn has played host to five state tournaments since 2014.

In other years, district tournaments have come to town.

Economic impact figures aren’t available for last year, but McNeill said two tournaments contested during the same week in 2018 generated approximately $500,000 for the city.

Cristy Bullock, newly-minted executive director of Dunn Travel and Tourism, described it as a “huge undertaking.” Bullock said the tourism office is sponsoring a team dinner handled by Sheryl’s Catering on Friday at Tart Park.

Players from each team will receive a bag tag that features the Dixie Youth Baseball emblem. Also included are coupons that can be redeemed at different businesses and restaurants around town.

“It’s a fantastic one-week event for the city,” said Steven Neuschafer, city manager.

McNeill said the state tournaments in 2014 and 2015 seemed hectic. He and his staff learned some valuable lessons that have factored into preparation for future tournaments, including this year.

“At this point, it’s more second nature about things that need to be planned and the timing of steps to take,” McNeill said. “We try not to go too far out of the norm, but try to find small things to add into the mix to make it better for everyone.”

The Dunn Area Recreation Booster Club will utilize approximately 30 employees to assist at the gates and pre-tournament prep work. McNeill said he’ll have 15 to 20 volunteers assist with scorekeeping, press box operation and field maintenance until the tournaments conclude.