PITTSFIELD -- The Babe Ruth Softball U16 World Series returns to the Doyle Athletic Complex in Pittsfield July 29-Aug. 5, and since its visit in 2008, the number of teams have more than doubled.
Only nine teams competed the first time, while this summer 20 teams will battle for the 2014 championship.
This also means more than twice as many people will be traveling to the Berkshires to participate. And, because the national Babe Ruth organization no longer allows players to stay with host families, the 20 members of the all-volunteer World Series Committee have begun seeking local lodging options for each team's players, coaches and family members.
Michele Rivers-Murphy, the committee's media coordinator, said the group needs 265 rooms to house players, coaches and family members for the tournament's eight day run.
"We don't want to wait until July to begin the outreach," she said.
Jiminy Peak Resort in Hancock, which has assisted the committee in previous local softball ventures, has already committed 100 rooms for the tournament, Rivers Murphy said.
She said the committee still needs about 70 rooms to cover all of the visiting team's players and coaches, and would use the additional lodging to house families.
Tom Murphy, the president of Pittsfield Girls Softball League Inc., the tournament's host organization, said the group would prefer housing everyone in Berkshire County.
"We don't want to spread out," Murphy said. "We'd like to stay in the Berkshire corridor. We'd like to keep our folks here so they can experience the shops and restaurants."
The 2008 tournament had an economic impact of $2.1 million on the Berkshire economy, according to figures the Babe Ruth organization supplied to the World Series Committee.
Rivers-Murphy said the committee is receiving help seeking lodging options from the Western MA Sports Commission, a Springfield-based organization that helps to pursue, attract and support sports related opportunities that impact the regional economy.
But efforts to secure those extra rooms have been slow so far.
"We have reached out to nearly every hotel on Route 7 and haven't made any gains in that area," Rivers-Murphy said. "At this point we are still not where we want to be with the hotels.
"We would like any hotel owners to reach out to us that have a decent capacity," she said.
The committee needs to raise $125,000 to put on this year's tournament, a sum that includes a $45,000 host fee, and $25,000 for facility improvements.
On Saturday, March 15, members of Pittsfield Girls Softball Inc. plan to don their uniforms and fan out across the county to collect donations and provide sponsor information. A kickoff ceremony takes place at City Hall beginning at 10 a.m. Rivers-Murphy said players will appear in the downtowns of Lee, Lenox, Adams, Pittsfield, and some other South County towns.
On March 23, the committee will be holding a wine and beer tasting event that will include a raffle and auction at Mazzeo's Ristorante in Pittsfield. Other events include opening day at the Doyle Athletic Complex on May 10, and a 5k trail run from Springside Park to the Doyle Complex on June 29.
Information can be found at www.pittsfieldgirlssoftball.com.
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