Summer’s here and the time is right, for dancin’ in the, no wait, sorry, for playing softball.

The first of six major softball tournaments in Payson this year is this weekend’s USA B State Championships. The tournament features 38 teams and uses all five fields at Rumsey Park, as well as the varsity field at Payson High School.

That’s double the three tournaments the town hosted a year ago and clear indication that Payson is establishing itself as a tournament destination for many organizations. That’s in spite of the fact that officials scrapped a plan to overhaul Rumsey Park’s layout to make it more attractive to softball tournaments.

With players, coaches and families converging on Rim Country for this and other tournaments, it offers a major source of revenue for area hotels, motels, restaurants, grocery stores and other retailers. Residents with houses to rent also reap the benefits of the estimated 500 players in town for the weekend. Most players bring at least one or two family members.

“These softball tournaments serve as an economic benefit driver for the town,” said Payson Parks, Recreation and Tourism Director Courtney Spawn. “Not only are the players coming to town, but they bring siblings, parents, spouses, coaches, grandparents, etc. They all stay, eat and shop in Payson for a three-four day experience within the tournament, and some staying longer. By providing quality experiences for the teams and quality experiences for these organizations who hold these tournaments we have been able to obtain national tournaments that not only extend our reach to state or regional teams, but teams from across the nation to come to Payson to compete at a high level.”

Spawn estimates each team spends about $3,565 a day while in Payson on food, gas, hotels and shopping and with 38 teams here for 2.5 days, that is nearly a $340,000 economic impact on the town.

And these big tournaments often wind up attracting other tournaments.

“We have had the added benefit from teams that come to these tournaments within the state come back to Payson to rent the fields for their own club invitational due to the experiences they have had coming to Payson and participating in our tournaments,” Spawn said.

In addition to the return of this weekend’s event, the Aug. 31-Sept. 2 NSA End of Summer Madness Invitational and the Sept. 9-11 Payson Senior Softball Classic, new on the schedule this year are a pair of national tournaments. First up is next weekend’s (July 19-21) 40 & Over and 50 & Over Men’s National Championship Fastpitch tournaments. And, following the USA Softball 12A Western National held here July 25-28, the 60 & Over Men’s National Championship Fastpitch Tournament closes the busy schedule on Oct. 4-6.

This weekend’s event features girls fastpitch divisions from 12-and-under all the way up to 18-and-under.

Play begins at 7 p.m. on Friday, July 12. Action starts at 7:30 a.m. Saturday, with the final games scheduled to begin at 8:50 p.m. Games on all six fields begin at 8 a.m. on Sunday.

Actually, adding in this spring’s high school Gracie Lee Haught Classic and three tournaments benefiting veterans, there are 10 softball tournaments on the schedule for this calendar year.

View this weekend’s tournament schedule at http://www.9starssports.com/home.php?layout=10324369

Contact the reporter at kmorris@payson.com

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