Families headed into El Campo next week for the Texas East Softball tournament will be bringing a welcome infusion of cash for the city’s economy.

It’s also, officials say, a wonderful time for El Campo residents to show their hospitality and pride in the community.

Set for Friday, July 12 to Tuesday, July 16 at Legacy Fields, the tournament “will bring lots of visitors to our area. We are grateful for the opportunity to host this tournament and show off our community,” City Manager Courtney Sladek said. “We expect that these families will visit our stores, eat at our restaurants and enjoy this great city.”

With five divisions of softball with girls ranging from eight years old to teenagers expected to attend, the chamber of commerce is making 250 welcome bags.

“We’re very excited,” Chamber President Rebecca Munos said. “With the games in the evening, they will be spending all day in El Campo. We want to let them know all of the things to do in El Campo. It’s a great time for businesses to showcase their merchandise.”

The 16 to 17 teams will come from four sections, but were not available as of presstime.

“All teams will be finalized by July 9 if not sooner,” Organizer Anna Sanders said.

Opening ceremonies for the tournament start at 3:30 p.m. Friday, July 12. “All of the teams will be introduced and enter Heritage Field followed by the introduction of umpires, presenting of the colors ... and throwing out the first pitch by Gary Pate’s family,” Sanders said, adding Pate was a former softball District 18 administrator.

Games will be played at 6 and 8 p.m. on each of the five fields at Legacy Park.

The public is invited out to watch any and all games, but must pay a $5 parking fee. Parking space is limited and locals are urged to come in as few vehicles as possible.

Traffic flows are being changed to accommodate the expected number of vehicles, Police Chief Terry Stanphill said.

Vehicles can only enter from the park from the West Loop. To leave, all traffic will exit onto Business 59 (far West Jackson).

Volunteer firefighters will be helping with parking cars and the city will, weather-permitting, stripe fields nearby for overflow.

Officers will be patrolling the grounds and the parking lots to help ensure safety and deter would-be thieves.

Additional volunteers are being sought to work the concession stands throughout the tournament.

“It will take the whole community to help pull this off,” Munos said. “We want these families to feel as welcome as possible and have fun.

To volunteer contact the chamber, 979-543-2713, or the Little League.

“This is what this ball park was built for, to bring in events. It’s also sales tax money and hotel/motel dollars,” Munos said.

The tournament has been held for the past several years in Seguin.

All El Campo teams were eliminated this year before reaching the state level.

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