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Little League tournament boosts Warner Robins economy

The Little League Southeast Region Tournament brings baseball and economic activity to the international city. Here's what local leaders have to say

WARNER ROBINS, Ga. — Dozens of Florida gators are in Central Georgia this week, but not for football. The Little League Baseball Southeast Region Tournament is in town. 

The games have brought eager families hoping to win it all from several states like North Carolina and  West Virginia.

"We are from South Carolina. Greenville. Representing Northwood Little League," Sunshine Kirkland shares.

Kirkland says between travel and play, it can get expensive to watch these boys step up to bat. 

"It is pricey, but we've been looking forward to it for years hoping they would make it, and they did," Kirkland said. 

After a long day cheering on teams, families hit the local shops and restaurants. 

"We all went to Japanese last night," she said. "There were lots of options."

That money lands in the pockets of Warner Robins businesses.

"Last year, the same tournament was in town," Warner Robins Mayor LaRhonda Patrick said. "We had an economic impact of about $2.1 million."

 Patrick says 75% of that goes to food and retail. The rest goes for transportation, entertainment and hotels. 

"Only about 5% goes to lodging," Patrick said. 

Marsha Buzzell with the city's Convention and Visitors Bureau says the impact of tourism doesn't stop when the little league tournament ends because Warner Robins is a sports hub.

Buzzell says on top of the city's parks and recreation department providing sports activities for all ages, there are other athletic events that 

"We have Georgia Special Olympics for 18 and older, and we have Georgia Golden Olympics, which is 50 and older," Buzzell said.

Patrick says she hopes the visitors see the city as more than a sports destination. 

"I want them to see Warner Robins as the International City, because that's what we are," Patrick said. "Somewhere very diverse, inviting community, someplace that feels like home."

Right now Kirkland and her boys say they are enjoying what the International City has to offer. They hope to make it all the way to the end of the tournament next Tuesday. 

This only means more money into the International City.

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