Youth baseball group scraps 2015 summer tournament
After a promising announcement last month that they planned to bring a large youth baseball tournament to the valley this summer, Colorado organizers with the American Amateur Youth Basball Alliance have decided to hold off until 2016 to stage the event.
“With the goal of making this one of the premier tournaments in the state of Colorado, tournament organizers and their partners have decided to delay its launch until next summer,”said AAYBA Colorado tournament director Chris Harguth. “The feedback we received from Colorado teams was clear. They want this tournament added to the 2016 schedule but the late announcement for 2015 made it difficult to add to their already full tournament schedules.
“Tournament dates for 2016 will be announced early this summer,” Harguth added.
In March representatives from the AAYBA have reached out to the communities of Vail and Eagle to host a late July tournament that would feature competition in the U10, U11, 112 and U13 divisions. The younger three divisions were slated to play at both Ford Park in Vail and at the Eagle Fairgrounds Complex while the U13 teams were slated to play exclusively at the Eagle fields. The tournament was proposed July 11-17.
AAYBA is based in Texas and has been in existence since 1989. While scouting the valley for tournament options earlier this year, Harguth said the facilities in Eagle and Vail are perfect for a large youth baseball tournament and the timing and location makes this valley a perfect fit for families who are planning a baseball tournament vacation.
He also noted that a 2015 event would be a first-ever tournament so organizers would have to to build it up from scratch. With that in mind, Haruth hoped to generate interest from some local teams as well as teams from throughout the western United States.
“We had set a goal, a who’s coming list, because we had so many teams coming out of Texas we needed to decide early if we were going to have to pull the plug,” said Harguth. “We owed it to the out-of-state teams to let them know if the tournament wasn’t going to happen.”
Harguth maintained that organizers were close to meeting their goal of attracting enough teams to stage the event, but the biggest obstacle was finding Colorado-based competitors and specifially, teams from the Eagle/Summit/Garfield county corridor
“We cant’ pull this off alone. We need the support of the teams up there,” said Harguth when he announced tournament plans in March.
Harguth said a sell out of tournment spots would be 30 teams per age group. For 2015, the tournament hoped to attract 15 team in each age group.
“We were close to that goal,’ said Harguth. He even personally reached out to about 15 Colorado teams, who responded that they had already set their tournament play schedules for 2015 but would like to include the Eagle County competition for 2016.
With that feedback, the organizers decided to step back and concentrate on next year, planning a tournament for mid July 2016 with lots of lead time announcements.
No “The Show”
The announcement that AAYBA had canceled plans for a youth baseball tournment in the valley feels familiar to locals. A couple of years ago, a program called “The Show” proposed a large youth tournament that failed to materialize at the last minute.
“I have a concern that people are going to compare our tournament to what happened up there before. That is really an apples-to-oranges comparison,” said Harguth.
According to Harguth, the The Show’s no show was related to various legal issues. He maintained the AAYBA program is in a different situation. “We are trying to build a tournament from scratch, and in my opinion, that’s the right way to do it. We want to do it right,” he said.
Looking ahead to 2016, Harguth said the AAYBA vision is to present a national tournament where kids can play in the dry, cool mountain air and families can enjoy a Colorado vacation.
“Why not bring the teams to the mountains to play. That’s where people want to be,” said Harguth.