SALISBURY — Providing further evidence of the success of the recent partnership formed to attract and expand major regional sporting events, the U.S. Specialty Sports Association (USSSA) announced its Eastern World Series will return to the Lower Shore in 2015.
The three-legged series, featuring softball teams from all over the country, will run from July 15 to Aug. 1. The event traditionally draws close to 400 teams to the region and organizers anticipate the same level of participation next year. The 2014 event spanned three weeks and generated an estimated economic impact of $20 million and hotel room night demand in excess of 12,000.
“The efforts put forth in the past from the staff along with the support we’ve received from local businesses, particularly the hotels and restaurants, and civic leaders made the decision to return this three-week, 400-team event to the area an easy one,” said USSSA Vice President and Tournament Organizer Bill Dowell. “USSSA and the local community have shared the same vision for years and we look forward to solidifying that partnership in 2015.”
Wicomico and Salisbury first hosted the USSSA Softball World Series in 2007 when just 58 teams competed. As the event grew over the years, it became evident Wicomico did not have the hotel rooms and amenities to support the event and just this year a partnership was formed with the town of Ocean City. The 2015 event will be billed under the Mid-Atlantic Amateur Sports Alliance (MAASA), which was formed by the town of Ocean City and Worcester and Wicomico Counties earlier this year.
“This is the ninth consecutive year the county will host the World Series,” said Wicomico County Executive Bob Culver. “The tournament only had 58 teams when it first came here in 2007, but we could see it had great potential. Now that it’s expanded to 400 teams, we’re grateful USSSA remains a strong partner and we’re excited to host this year’s event in collaboration with Ocean City and Worcester County.”
Culver said as the event grew, it became evident more partners would be needed to accommodate the onslaught of participants.
“The requirements of events like the World Series are much greater than any of us can handle on our own,” he said. “By working together, we’re able to meet the needs of large scale sports marketing promoters and see that our region continues to benefit from hosting them.”
For its part, Ocean City is looking forward to hosting the roughly 15,000 visitors during the World Series.
“We are pleased to welcome back the USSSA Eastern World Series,” said Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan this week. “We take pride in hosting these amazing athletes, their coaches and their families.”