ELIZABETHTOWN, Ky. (WDRB) - Elizabethtown Sports Park is set to play home to the Ripken Experience in 2023. The event runs next year from April to October and could see up to 1,500 different teams take part.

“The park is celebrating a ten-year anniversary this summer and we thought what better way than to announce a wonderful new partnership with the Ripken Experience? They’re awfully good, as a matter of fact, the best in the business at the treatment for youth athletes on the field,” Janna Clark, the executive director of Elizabethtown Tourism, said.

The Sports Park is one of four sites chosen by the organizers that allows youth baseball and softball players to have a major league experience on those diamonds.

“The majority of these kids that are playing aren’t going to make it to the majors, so the opportunity to give them the experience that a major leaguer would have when they play in our tournaments is really what we focus on,” Mike Kenney, the executive vice president of Ripken Baseball, said.

Kenney predicts Elizabethtown could see upwards of 100,000 visitors over the course of the event, a big-time boost to the local economy.

“Economic impact is very, very important to our business. We’re having people descend from all over the country and for some of our facilities, all over the world to come in and play baseball at these tournaments. (They) stay in hotels, eat at local restaurants, play mini-golf, whatever the activities are to the areas,” Kenney said.

That boost will add to what the Sports Park already brings in on average.

“It’s a vital cog in our local economy. We do over a hundred events. We welcome over 65,000 youth athletes a year plus their families, and it represents about 15-to-20 million dollars in direct spending for our businesses,” Clark said.

The Ripken Experience organizers expect to release the full schedule of events on Friday.

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