NCAA Division 3 baseball brings big bucks to Valley

GRAND CHUTE- It was a picture perfect afternoon to soak in America’s past-time.

“We’ve been coming here for a really long time. We just like to come out and watch and catch foul balls and stuff,” said Greyson Maulick of Appleton.

Maulick says he and his friends had a half-day of school–and following tradition, came out to the NCAA Men’s Division III Baseball Championship at Fox Cities Stadium.

But unlike these local kids, many of the fans in the stands are in from out of town. And they’re bringing in their cash.

“We’re expecting this year’s tournament to bring in roughly a half million dollars into the local economy and those are dollars that are coming directly from attendees pockets and going into area businesses, hotels.

Hotels are seeing a boost on a weekend that’s normally slow.

“We’ve probably picked up a good 30 to 40 percent in occupancy,” said Charles Gifford, manager of the Comfort Suites in Appleton.

But even with the increase in business, the Comfort Suites says business is still down from last year’s tournament.

“We’ve got rooms available right now but it just depends on where the teams are coming from,” said Gifford.

“We’re from southern California and this is our first time in Wisconsin,” said Leslie Eisner, whose son Dylan plays second base for the Atlanta university. “It’s really pretty, great weather, really nice people and very flat.”

Parents of Emory University players consoled themselves after a tough loss at this tailgate.

It was hosted by families from Neenah. The Roths and Sagehorns have adopted teams for thirteen years.

“It’s so much fun and the parents appreciate it so much, too. It’s nice to be the link between the team and the Fox Cities,” said Dawn Roth.

And after their first cheese curds, visitors say they feel right at home here in the valley.

The tournament continues throughout the weekend.

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