PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. – At the completion of its third year of operation in the Smoky Mountains, The Ripken Experience Pigeon Forge scored yet another homerun with baseball fans and city officials alike.
Research recently released by the city determined that The Ripken Experience was responsible for $33.8 million in visitor spending during its 2018 season which began in March and concluded in November. In that nine-month period, The Ripken Experience hosted 925 teams from 25 states, Canada and Puerto Rico, traveling from as far away as California, New York, and Texas. Other states represented are Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
Further demonstrating the sports facility’s success is that 99 percent of those who visited the facility reside outside of Sevier County. Pigeon Forge is located in Sevier County just six miles from the entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Tournament participants, coaches, and their families contribute to the local economy through overnight lodging stays, ticket purchases to area attractions, restaurant dining and other purchases.
Since opening its doors in March 2016, more than 2,100 youth baseball teams and 150 high school softball teams have taken the fields at The Ripken Experience Pigeon Forge for competition in 80 events. In total, more than 33,500 players and coaches have traveled to play ball on fields that offer unobstructed views of the Great Smoky Mountains, with an additional 1,000 teams expected to travel to the complex for competition in 2019.
“The partnership with Pigeon Forge has been fantastic. The fact that the complex has had this positive impact on the city is wonderful and confirms what we all had hoped and believed would be the result of the project. I am excited to continue to grow with our great partner, and we are all proud of being a member of this wonderful community.” Cal Ripken, Jr. said.
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.
“The Ripken Experience Pigeon Forge continues to demonstrate its ability to attract young people and their families to Pigeon Forge,” said Pigeon Forge City Manager Earlene Teaster. “We continue to see more and more Ripken guests who are first-time visitors to Pigeon Forge, which further underscores the value of the city’s investment in this fine property.”
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; BB&T Ballpark in Winston-Salem, 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.