Chicken wire once adorned the backstops at Ogden’s baseball fields, now those fields are perfectly manicured, lined and fit for local games and national tournaments. Recently, Ogden City hosted the Triple Crown Sports Fast Pitch World Series with teams from around the country. Working for Ogden City Recreation for more than 15 years, Recreation Manager Edd Bridge, has a lot of experience with both the local baseball games, but also the major tournaments. He sees those tournaments as an opportunity to showcase what this city has to offer but also provides citizens a chance to participate in an event they may not otherwise get to enjoy. “Not only does this bring in economic impact, but it also gives our residents an opportunity to play in these tournaments without spending a lot of money traveling. They wake up in their own bed, go and play baseball,” explains Bridge.
The city’s Recreation Department started hosting the Cal Ripken Baseball tournaments over a decade ago, with both regional and state games being played. Last year things got bigger with Ogden’s diamonds being filled World Series games; this year the Series grew larger with the addition of baseball. Sara Toliver, with Visit Ogden, saw support for the World Series as a team effort saying, “This required collaboration from the Ogden City team, the Weber County team, our school districts, other cities from around the county. It really was a true community effort.”
Ogden’s ball fields supported 92 teams for the World Series made up of youth between 15 to 18 years old, with the championship game was played at Weber State University. D1 Prospects also selected Ogden City’s fields to play the Girls High School All-State Invitational with six teams, followed by a softball tournament called “the Sandlot”. That series had 38 teams, some even from Ogden. “They come here for the fields and a recreation department that knows how to run a tournament,” says Ogden City’s Recreation Facility Supervisor Ginger Myers. “We know how to prep the fields, keep the dugouts nice and have enough manpower to make the tournament run.”
Tourism group, Visit Ogden, collaborated with Ogden City to make the World Series a successful event. They coordinated teams with hotels, activities, and restaurants as they analyzed the dollars and cents these tournaments generated. Visit Ogden’s Director of Sales, Millie Stewart, presented to the Ogden City Council saying, “Sports tourism is the fastest growing segment of tourism; particularly female sports provide the highest economic impact.” According to Visit Ogden’s analytics, in 2022 with 55 teams, the Triple Crown World Series generated $2.9 million in economic impact for Weber Count as a whole. This year they estimate with 92 teams playing, the series generated about $4.4 million. Stewart explains, “This is the teams staying locally, they’re dining locally, they’re taking advantage of the recreational opportunities we have—The Salomon Center, the Megaplex. They’re really investing in our community in so many different ways.”
The work done by Ogden City’s Recreation and Parks Divisions is contributing to a high quality of life and economic prosperity, in alignment with the city’s Make Ogden plan, which is intended to guide the growth and economic development of Ogden over the next 25 years. Broken down into six tenets, one being Parks and Open Space, Make Ogden states: “Increasing the quality and programming of existing parks and open space will catalyze development and increase surrounding land values, while attracting new residents and businesses.” This is what Edd Bridge and others in Ogden City Recreation and Parks are currently doing by making pristine fields and bringing in both major tournaments and regional showcases for our youth. Bridge says, “I think we embrace people here in Ogden, we’re just so diverse and we love having people play here.”
Pulling off tournaments of this size, and doing it well is no small feat, it takes a lot of preparation and manpower. Bridge says, “This year they played at Monroe Park, Miles Goodyear Park in Ogden and at 4th Street ballpark in Ogden. They played at the two high schools—Ben Lomond and Ogden, and then they still had to go out to Brigham City and Plain City.” Getting things in order takes all the manpower from Ogden City Recreation and Parks. These fields get attention whether it be summer or winter, rain, or shine, with a regular maintenance schedule for mowing, watering, grooming, or brightening up that pitcher’s mound.
The Recreation Division plans to expand Ogden’s 4th Street Ballpark after acquiring the recently closed Lynn School property and opening a Request for Proposal (a process inviting vendors to bid on a project) back in May. Even now, those looking to take in a ball game can’t resist the vivid green grass, classic bleachers, and perfectly lined fields. This is why Triple Crown Sports has signed a three-year contract to play ball in Ogden. “There’s a lot of people coming through, our Recreation Division showcases the city well, this city showcases itself very well, especially on the sport side,” says Ginger Myers. “It’s top notch, really.”
Toliver agrees that the atmosphere in Ogden keeps bringing Triple Crown Sports back to play. "Because of the power of collaboration in this community, the willingness to come to the table to work together, and the welcome received by all when they bring their events here, we've been able to secure these events," she explains.
The 2023 Triple Crown Sports World Series and D1 Prospects Girls Utah High School All-State Invitational Fast Pitch is in the books, with many more to go. “We not only provide activities for our kids and our youth, but we’re also making an economic impact while we’re doing it,” says Bridge. Until next year when Triple Crown Sports comes to town, guess where you’ll find Bridge and other Ogden City Recreation and Parks employees—out on the fields, making everything just right for the local kids ready to play ball.