PANAMA CITY BEACH-- Panama City Beach ranks 13 in the top 25 destinations for youth baseball.
Local tourism officials are already planning to build a new sports complex they hope will be open by next summer. Some might wonder if the new complex is really necessary.
Pier Park closed its streets Tuesday afternoon to help kick-off the first of 4 Grand Slam Boys Baseball Tournaments. This is the 10th year Grand Slam has held its tournament events in Panama City Beach. It's become a favorite for the kids and their families.
"You've got the world's most beautiful beaches and you've got baseball and you've got great facilities. So you add those up and you got a win-win," said Larry Thompson, Grand Slam Owner. All those ballgames mean millions of dollars. He said, "We are responsible for over $20,000 room nights throughout the summer."
"They come into the community and they really spend a lot of money," Buddy Wilkes, Bay Co. Tourist Development Council Chairman.
Thompson will bring 500 teams from 25 states to Panama City Beach this summer.
Not only will he use Frank Brown Park, but other area ball fields.
Thompson said, "As the summer goes on we'll also be using Arnold High School, Rutherford High School, and Gulf Coast State college" The sad fact is, Wilkes says he could have brought even more teams to the area. "We've turned away about 300 ball teams this year alone."
That's why Tourist Development Council members voted last week to spend up to $8 million on a new sports complex. They believe the city will see an immediate return on the investment.
"It's a great baseball town and it would really be awesome to see that happen here," said Holly Lasecki, Parent.
More than 155 teams will arrive Sunday to kick off the tournament season.