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Monroeville to host 40-team baseball tournament

With four new diamonds, Monroeville is prepared to host a 40-team baseball tournament this summer that its chief organizer hopes will become an annual event.

"This will be the first one of this size to come to Western Pennsylvania that I'm aware of," said Dan Ninemire, general manager of the All-American Baseball Center in Trafford.

The tournament, for players 14 and younger, is scheduled for the first weekend after July 4, and Ninemire anticipates it will fill about 150 Monroeville hotel rooms, as well as boost local restaurants and stores. Each team has about 12 to 14 players, so the tournament brings together about 560 families, including local ones, he said.

The tournament would use the four fields in the new community park plus three fields in the municipality's other parks. The proximity of the fields is one of the things that makes the tournament viable, Ninemire said. Another factor is the proximity of several hotels and attractions in Monroeville and Pittsburgh that would bring in people from around the region, he said.

"We're hoping that the area gets a nice shot in the arm. Not that it will make a huge dent, but every little bit helps," Ninemire said.

The new park and its four baseball fields was a pivotal element in setting up the tournament, because participants like a centralized location for the games, he said.

Marshall Bond, Monroeville's manager, said local sports groups including the Monroeville Baseball Association lobbied for more athletic fields when the municipality started designing the park.

"It was something that the Monroeville Baseball Association felt we were somewhat deficient in," he said.

In addition to baseball, the park could encourage softball and soccer tournaments, but no similar events are in the works, he said.

Because this is Monroeville's first time as host for a 40-team baseball tournament, municipal officials don't know quite what to expect.

"It will be a learning experience all the way around," Bond said.

The tournament is sanctioned by the United States Specialty Sports Association and East Coast Tournament Baseball, but USSSA hasn't decided yet whether the tournament will be a qualifier, Ninemire said. The play will be in five divisions -- 10 and under, 11 and under, 12 and under, 13 and under and 14 and under. Eight teams will compete in each division.

The All-American Baseball Center will field two of the teams in each division, Ninemire said.

Not receiving qualifier status won't affect the number of teams, but it does make the tournament more exciting because the winners are a step closer to national competitions.

"Most of the teams are striving to play on that national level," he said.

In addition to bringing money to Monroeville, the tournament allows local baseball families to be the hosts instead of always being the visitors, he said.

"Every weekend we're taking our teams and sending them to a different area," Ninemire said.

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