High school softball lands in Akron
Published May 31, 2012, in The Akron Beacon Journal(Link)
By Cailtin Cook
Akron’s Firestone Stadium took on a festive feel Thursday as eight softball teams from across Ohio battled in the state high school semifinals for a chance to advance to the state title games.
Another four games will be played today — including Medina facing off against North Canton Hoover — before Saturday’s championship games in four divisions.
Gregg Mervis, interim president for Akron/Summit Convention & Visitors Bureau, said the city is playing host to the tournament for the fifth year.
Aside from enjoying some pretty competitive games, this is a chance for the city to show off to a number of visitors, Mervis said.
“People are staying in hotels, eating in restaurants, visiting attractions and, equally important, going home and telling people from their communities about the wonderful things in Akron,” he said.
Tammy Spidell, 41, of Strasburg, was among Thursday’s visitors.
She and her family even have an Akron restaurant tradition, which they developed while she played softball at the University of Akron in the late 1980s.
After watching the Strasburg-Franklin Tigers play, they usually go to Parasson’s restaurant, where Spidell jokes that everything on the menu is the family’s favorite dish.
According to the Ohio High School Athletic Association, Firestone Stadium claims three of the top five most-attended softball tournaments. Akron’s top crowds are 10,284 in 2009; 9,246 in 2008; and 8,165 in 2011.
Steve Potts, a coach at Salem International University in West Virginia, traveled about 3½ hours to take in some of Akron’s “Final Four” games on Thursday and to scout some talent.
“This is one of the nicer softball stadiums there is,” he said. “Most are just fields, you don’t really get the stands, concessions like you do here.”
Mervis estimated that the tournament brings in $750,000 each year to the Akron area.
“It’s tough to put a value on [the games], but it’s a tremendous value,” he said.