When the Continental Amateur Baseball Association (CABA) Champions, the Academy Select Sun Devils from Dallas Texas, scored the last run in their victory over the American Amateur Baseball Congress (AABC) Champions, the PL Siege, from Pembroke Lakes, Florida, at the inaugural Youth Baseball Network 12 and Under National Championships, it represented two firsts. One first was crowning of the first Youth Baseball Network Champion; the second was Branson’s hosting of a National youth baseball championship of this type as part of its expanding interest in youth baseball.
Gil Vieira, the founder and CEO of the Youth Baseball Network (YBN), said that YBN is a marketing and media portal dedicated to the youth baseball industry. He points out that although the “Little League” is the best known organized youth baseball league, it represents only about 30 percent of those involved in youth baseball. Organized leagues such as AABC, CABA, Dizzy Dean, AAU, NABF, Babe Ruth, and others, represent the other 70 percent.
Vieira, said that the YBN National Championship was YBN’s initial marketing effort. Itâ€™s a tournament of champions showcasing the 12-and-under champions of five major youth baseball leagues where a â€˜trueâ€™ Youth Baseball National Champion was crowned, but itâ€™s just one of the many aspects of YBN designed to effectively market and network the various segments of the Youth Baseball Industry.
The initial interest in Branson for YBN was the announcement of the Ballparks of America youth baseball complex that was originally scheduled to open in June of 2015. After visiting Branson for the first time, Vieira decided that it was the ideal city for the YBN Championship and went ahead with the Championship in Branson even though the Ballparks of America was not yet available.
“What we want to develop here is more than a tournament; we want it to be a five day vacation for youth baseball families,” Vieira said. “Along with the tournament, we are developing a ‘Youth Baseball Coaches and Parent Convention.’ What better place to bring the demographic of youth baseball than to Branson with all that it has to offer,” he added.
With the scheduled start of the Ballparks of America complex in October, 2015 Vieira hopes to hold the YBN National Championship and Youth Baseball Coaches and Parent Convention in Branson in 2016. Asked if he would hold it in Branson if the Ballparks of America complex was not ready, Vieira said, “We hope so. This is a small, but prestigious tournament that we believe will become the number one 12-and-under national tournament in the country; but for that to happen, we need championship quality fields with grass infields that are TV ready.”
On July 22, Branson Home Town News, KRZK, announced that ground breaking for the Ballparks of America complex would be on October 1, 2015. Doc Snyder, the President of Ball Parks of America, said that the complex would be ready to host the YBN Championship and broadcast it on live television.
In addition to tournaments like the Youth Baseball Network Championship, a major emphasis of the Ballparks of America complex will be travel ball tournaments from the spring through the fall, with up to 40 teams participating. The games will be played in miniature replicas of ballparks such as Busch Stadium, Wrigley Field, Tiger Stadium, Fenway Park, and Ebbets Field.
“It’s a wonderful new activity, both for those coming to Branson to see and those participating,” said Annette Wood, the Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center. “We are proud to be a sponsoring partner in both the Ballparks of America and the Youth Baseball Network National Championship,” she added.
While the YBN was the first jewel in Branson’s youth baseball crown, the completion of the Ballparks of America complex will be Branson’s youth baseball â€˜crown jewel.â€™ It will provide a championship, TV-ready facility to serve both major sectors of the Youth Baseball Industry, the travel teams and the organized leagues. All of this sports activity will be located within seconds of all the shows, attractions, shopping, and other activities that Branson offers