BANGOR — All systems are go for the 10th consecutive Senior League World Series to be held at the Shawn T. Mansfield Stadium, which will be held Aug. 13-20.
And last year’s run by District 3 champion Bangor, which became the first Maine District 3 team to reach the championship game, has given the event a significant bump financially.
Aruba South Little League beat Bangor East/West 8-1 in the title game in front of a huge crowd. The game was televised on ESPNU as will this year’s championship game.
“Because of our gate last year, we had a surplus of nearly $20,000,” said tournament director Mike Brooker at a press conference Thursday at Mansfield Stadium.
“Our gate receipts came to $43,00 last year,” said Brooker. “We had never been above $31,000 before. We had always been in the $29,000 to $31,000 window.”
He said Bangor’s success also helped out at the souvenir stand.
“We were able to sell out everything at price as opposed to cutting the prices on the final day,” explained Brooker.
Nichi Farnham, a state senator from Bangor, said it is easier to solicit sponsorships when tourney organizers can point to “what the players did last summer. And we had such good attendance, it introduced (the Senior League World Series) to so many more people.”
Doug MacDonald, who heads up the fundraising committee, said “we have had a consistent group of sponsors over the years but we’ve had also some unsolicited donations where we didn’t contact them, they contacted us. That has to do with our good results last year. It opened some more doors.
“That is quite pleasing. I think we’re in pretty good standing, financially,” added MacDonald who estimated that they have 30 sponsors.
That is good news for Dennis Lewin, the Little League International Board of Directors Chairman and a part-time resident of East Orland/Toddy Pond..
“To see this quality event in a place my wife (Bucksport native Vicki Brawn) and I live now is really special,” said Lewin, a former producer of Monday Night Football on ABC. “They do a great job supporting this event. Our hope is that the people in Maine and the sponsors continue to be supportive like they have been in the past and even let it grow although I know it’s not easy in these (economic) times.
“The field is magnificent. It’s as good a facility as you’ll find anywhere in the world,”
added Lewin. “And the people who take care of it day in and day out should be very proud. David Mansfield should be very proud to have his son’s name on the field.
Lewis said that the Senior League World Series, as an event, is doing very well.
“There’s concern as there is with any event whether the local people can maintain the kind of support necessary to keep the event in the same location, especially with the economy being down.
“But our dream is that it stays here forever. It’s a great facility and a great location,” said Lewin.
Brooker and the World Series Committee received the Bangor Chamber of Commerce’s Community Service Award in January and he said it was a special moment.
“It was great. It was so appreciated by the World Series Committe that the community recognize the effort people put into this,” said Brooker. “I keep harping on the fact that people need to realize people do this on a volunteer basis. They do it because they have passion for the kids and passion for the game. Nobody is making any money off it.”
Brooker will be keeping his fingers crossed that the weather cooperates.
“What really hurts is when you lose a day to rain. The games get made up but you can’t make up the gate,” he said.
The format will remain the same as 10 teams will be divided into two five-team divisions for pool play with five U.S. regional champs in one division and five international titlists in the other.
The top two teams in each pool advance to the semifinals and the winners vie for the title.
Three international teams, Tanauan City, Philippines, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy and defending champ Aruba South have all earned their tickets to Bangor.
The opening ceremony is on Aug. 13 and games begin the next day.