Bringing Visitors and Business Home
Sports at the Beach
For many businesses in the Rehoboth area, things hop on summer weekends. For Sports at the Beach, they really do — particularly baseballs across infields.
Head to its 95-acre facility on Lewes Georgetown Highway, and you can catch a lot of baseball games over a seven-month season. Each weekend from April to October, Sports at the Beach hosts baseball tournaments for teams of 9-to-16 year-olds from the mid-Atlantic region and as far as California, Saudi Arabia and Australia.
With 16 fields and four dormitories, the facility will host as many as 80 teams a weekend. It also features concession stands, a pro/gift shop, a swimming pool and more, to serve the players, coaches and parents during tournaments.
During the summer, says general manager Pete Townsend, Sports at the Beach will employ over 250 people — from umpires and groundskeepers to concession workers and office staff. Since the dormitories can only house 24 teams, many stay in nearby motels and eat at local restaurants.
The state tourism office also recognizes Sports at the Beach's value in bringing visitors to Delaware. Director of Tourism Linda Parkowski says, "Sports at the Beach is one of the premier facilities of its kind in the country. Each year, the facility drives over $26 million in economic impact for Sussex County, and thousands of visitors and players have a chance to experience Delaware because of Sports at the Beach."
Winter, however, is another story. "We have about six full-time staff in the off-season," Townsend says, "who are busy booking teams for the next year. Yet cash flow can be a concern, and this past fall we wanted a short-term loan to help get us through the winter."
Sports at the Beach learned about First State Community Loan Fund through contacts at the Delaware Economic Development Office. They began the application process in late August 2010 and received a 6-month $150,000 loan in October. "We first met with Robert Kauffman at First State," says Townsend, "but Phyllis McCollum handled most of the process. She was our life-saver."
The funds enabled Sports at the Beach to continue general operations and pay staff over the winter months. "Things worked out well for us," Townsend says, "and we were actually able to pay off the loan about one month early."
Now a new season has begun, and Sports at the Beach is back in the game full-strength, bringing lots of people, business and jobs to the Rehoboth area.