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Thursday, December 18, 2014
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(Associated Press)

(Associated Press)

Editorial: Lake Area becoming prep sports mecca

Last Modified: Monday, June 10, 2013 9:23 PM

Last week’s landing of the Louisiana high school boys and girls state basketball tournaments and all of the state baseball tournaments is but one more feather in Southwest Louisiana’s cap.

Our corner of the state is fast becoming the mecca where prep championships are determined.

Consider this: the state football championship games are played in the New Orleans Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Boys and girls state track championships are contested at LSU’s Bernie Moore Stadium in Baton Rouge. The girls state volleyball tournament is played at the Pontchartrain Center in Kenner. State tennis and golf championship tournaments normally rotate around the state.

Calcasieu Parish can easily trump that with the baseball and softball tournaments for all seven school classifications, the state swimming meet in Sulphur, and the rodeo finals and the boys and girls basketball tournaments at Burton Coliseum.

With each event comes a noteworthy economic impact — teams and fans staying in hotels, dining in restaurants and shopping while they are away from the competition — and media coverage that as the credit card commercial advises is priceless.

It also means that Southwest Louisiana teams and their fans will not have to travel far in their quest for a state crown.

A laundry list of factors figure in our area’s sports bounty.

Certainly, the facilities in Sulphur and Burton Coliseum make a wonderful first impression. One would be hard pressed to find better baseball and softball facilities than at Sulphur’s McMurry and North Frasch parks, respectively.

Those baseball and softball complexes and Burton Coliseum are made possible by property taxes approved and renewed by Sulphur voters in the case of the former and parish voters in the case of the latter. Additionally, the Sulphur Parks and Recreation Department and the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury have been good stewards with that tax money.

But it’s not just the trappings.

This area’s hard work and hospitality in hosting the Fast Pitch 56 State Tournament for more than a decade has spread throughout the state. It was certainly a factor in luring the state baseball tournaments in four classifications last year. Those successes have been another priceless commodity in scoring these latest gains.

We believe it will take a herculean effort to wrench these tournaments away once those baseball and basketball coaches, players and fans come to be spoiled by what their softball counterparts have experienced. And much of that can be credited to SPAR Director Norman Farr and the capable staff who have run a first-class softball tournament since its arrival.

The Calcasieu Parish Police Jury and the Southwest Louisiana Convention and Visitors Bureau also earn a pat on the back for providing Burton Coliseum at no cost to the Louisiana High School Athletic Association for the basketball tournament and for chipping in an incentive package of $20,000. The tourist bureau, under the guidance of Executive Director Shelley Johnson and Senior Sales Manager for Athletics Eric Zartler, has compiled an impressive track record of luring sporting events to our area.

This latest coup for Southwest Louisiana has a standing-room-only crowd of fathers and mothers.

It’s a job well done.

• • •

This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Jim Beam, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.

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