PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (May 24, 2017) – Marking its first anniversary in the Smoky Mountains, The Ripken Experience Pigeon Forge is batting a thousand with baseball fans and city officials alike.
Since opening its doors in March 2016, more than 800 youth baseball teams and 70 high school softball teams have taken the fields at The Ripken Experience Pigeon Forge for competition in 30 tournaments. In total, more than 12,000 players and coaches have traveled to play ball on fields that offer unobstructed views of the Great Smoky Mountains, with an additional 600 teams expected to travel to the complex for competition this summer.
“Not only did thousands of players, coaches and their families enjoy The Ripken Experience, but they also took advantage of our family-friendly vacation destination, which resulted in visitor spending of $30 million in Pigeon Forge,” said Eric Brackins, Pigeon Forge assistant city manager.
The appeal of Pigeon Forge as a family vacation destination was a major reason the city built the $22.5 million complex and contracted with Ripken Baseball to operate it.
In its first year, participants traveled to Pigeon Forge from 25 states and Canada, hailing from as far away as Alaska, California, Massachusetts, and Texas. Other states represented are Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
“America’s favorite pastime, baseball, and Pigeon Forge are a perfect combination,” said Leon Downey, executive director of the Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism. “The Ripken Experience Pigeon Forge has given many folks a reason to visit Pigeon Forge for the first time, and once they see all that we have to offer, they want to return year after year.”
The Ripken Experience Pigeon Forge youth complex is located on a ridge above Pigeon Forge. Each field borrows its design inspiration from current and former ballparks highlighting the professional player progression from the Minor to Major Leagues, including Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore.
The others are Calfee Park in Pulaski, Va., the oldest park in the Appalachian League; Fluor Field in Greenville, S.C., known as “Little Fenway”; Engel Stadium in Chattanooga, Tenn., a filming location for the “42” movie about Jackie Robinson; Winston-Salem Ballpark in N.C.; and Isotopes Park in Albuquerque, N.M.
The Ripken Experience Pigeon Forge hosts tournaments nine months out of the year and offers year-round branded events in its 14,000-square-foot clubhouse. Tournaments are free to spectators, and parking is free at the complex.
Visitor information about Pigeon Forge is available online at MyPigeonForge.com and toll-free at 800-251-9100. To learn more Ripken Baseball and for The Ripken Experience Pigeon Forge tournament schedule, visit RipkenBaseball.com.
Trish McGee for the Pigeon Forge Dept. of Tourism
615-327-1189 ext. 327
Katy Ford for The Ripken Experience Pigeon Forge