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CVB may hit grand slam or strike out

Tourism promoters in Harrison County are stepping up to the plate to help the Friends of the Harrison County Youth buy acreage in the Frank O’Bannon Park in Corydon.
Whether they hit a grand slam or strike out depends on the Harrison County Council.
The Harrison County Convention and Visitors’ Bureau Director Jim Epperson, at the Dec. 22 planning session of the council, asked for $100,000 in tourism dollars to seal the deal with the Friends and the YMCA.
Council chair Gary Davis reminded the audience that the meeting that night was a planning session (held the second Monday of each month at 7 p.m.) to hear requests, so the council took the matter under advisement and will act after the request has been properly advertised.
The money is sought to buy into a cooperative marketing partnership with Friends of the Harrison County Youth to promote and package the baseball fields to host sports tournaments of out-of-town clubs.
‘It’s like an outdoor convention center,’ said Michael Wiseman, the CVB board chair, at the bureau’s meeting Dec. 18. His motion to contribute the funds to the Friends, seconded by Dennis Mann, sailed through the five-member board unanimously. Besides Wiseman and Mann, the board appointees include Olivia Orme, Ed Pitman and Larry Bennett, all of whom were present at the meeting.
‘The intent is for both of us to have a win-win situation,’ Epperson told the CVB board.
The CVB now has a balance in its account of nearly $384,500, which includes the innkeepers’ tax and revenue from Caesars Indiana at Bridgeport. Tourism, in this case, the CVB, gets 10 cents from every $1 in admission taxes paid to the state by Caesars plus the four percent collected from overnight visitors at inns, lodges, motels and hotels here.
Using that money to leverage an agreement allowing the CVB to market sports tournaments translates into a good deal for business, Epperson said.
‘This is exactly the kind of market we could use to help fill our motel rooms, our restaurants … ‘ he said. ‘We can fill those hotels on off-beat weekends.’
YMCA director Catherine Turcotte said the arrangement will allow the Friends to purchase 15 acres for their baseball and softball fields and related support buildings or structures.
‘I think it’s a great idea,’ she said.
‘I feel especially for non-profits run by part-time people, it would be hard for them to do all the additional marketing to bring in the tournaments from the outside.
‘This will benefit the entire community,’ Turcotte said. ‘These people will fill up the hotels. These people will spend money, and it will help every one of us.’
Turcotte said the YMCA is currently negotiating a contract with the CVB to market soccer tournaments.
In a ‘letter of intent’ to the Friends of Harrison County Youth, Epperson said, ‘We see great potential in positioning Harrison County as a destination of choice for sports tournaments hosting out-of-town teams.’
Friends president Kevin Burton could not be reached for comment, but in a letter to the CVB, he said, ‘We the Friends, along with the boys and girls of this community, appreciate your investment into our program and look forward to a long-lasting partnership with HCCVB.’
In return for its $100,000 investment, the CVB would be entitled to receive a guaranteed number of weekend days it could market the fields for tournaments, a percentage of revenue raised through field rentals, and a percentage of net proceeds during tournaments secured by the CVB.
Besides the monetary investment, the CVB would provide 500 hours per year of staff time devoted to selling, organizing and servicing sports tournaments; maintain an Internet-based system for servicing accommodations for tournament participants and officials and negotiate room accommodations for visiting tournament officials and participants.
In addition, the CVB would provide tourism and dining information on-site during tournament play, provide welcome packets for visiting tournament participants and ensure the appropriate liability insurance has been provided.