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Collaboration made American Legion regional a success

ASHEBORO — Asheboro’s success hosting the American Legion regional baseball tournament wasn’t possible without the Heart of North Carolina Visitors Bureau.


That was the assessment by officials with the local team that was part of the event. Dennis Garcia, general manager of the Asheboro ZooKeepers, and Ronnie Pugh, co-owner of the ZooKeepers and coach of the Randolph County American Legion team, gave an update on the season for both the American Legion and the Coastal Plains League teams to the Randolph County Tourism Development Authority Board of Directors on Aug. 17.


“Thanks for what you do,” Pugh told the TDA board. Hosting the tournament successfully “is not possible without you and the city.”


The American Legion regional was represented by eight teams from six states, including the Randolph County Post 45 team, which served as host. The tournament took place over five days at McCrary Park.


It was the ninth consecutive year that the regional has been held in Asheboro, which is unprecedented, according to Garcia. “We’ve got to be doing something right. The American Legion is taking notice of what we do,” and Asheboro has been approved for next year’s regional tournament as well.


“American Legion National looks to us” for the job Asheboro does, Pugh said. He added that the new artificial turf field allowed games to be played right after rain caused some delays. “When (renovations to McCrary Park) are completed, there will be no (other such) facility in the South at a city our size.”


Pugh noted that the winner of the regional goes to the American Legion World Series at Shelby. He said players and coaches on that team can “stay here until going to Shelby.”


Garcia explained that each visiting team is provided with a local host to show them around, talk about things to do, places to eat and, in general, make them feel comfortable. “We’ve had positive feedback” from teams, he said.


Pugh said McCrary Park is the site for a high school fall tournament and another tournament in the spring. He said they hope to attract college teams from colder climates to play here early in the baseball season.


Hosting the regional tournament brings visitors to the area to stay in hotels, eat at restaurants and shop at stores. Figures for this year’s event are not yet available.


In other business, the board:


- Heard Suzanne Dale, deputy finance officer for Randolph County, report that the 2021-22 fiscal year ended with an increase in revenues over the previous year of $365,234. Revenues for the year ending June 30 totaled $1,269,356.45. Most of that comes from the hotel occupancy tax.


- Received the hotel data report for May and June from Amber Scarlett, TDA executive director. May showed a 25 percent increase in revenue per available rooms, a 23.8 percent increase in average daily rate and a 1.2 percent increase in occupancy. 


June was a bit of a head-scratcher with revenue per available room dropping by 6.4 percent and occupancy decreasing by 11.5 percent. Average daily rate, however, showed an increase of 5.7 percent. Scarlett said the decreases could have been the result of the High Point Furniture Market taking place during a different month from last year.


- Was told that attendance this year through July at the Visitor Centers on I-73/74 shows a 44 percent drop from last year. Scarlett was unsure why the drop in visitors but speculated that it could be from an outbreak of COVID-19 or higher gasoline prices.


- Were updated on public relations by Susan Dosier of DK Communications Group. She played short videos, one of a sight-impaired young artist from Kansas City who visited Seagrove potters to learn about their craft. The other video was a report by WGHP of High Point on the North Carolina Aviation Museum.


- Received an update on visual advertising by Richard Schoenberger of Manor House Graphics. Ads appeared in the Randolph Hub, The Courier-Tribune, Our State magaziine, DPAC Playbill, Durham magazine, Chapel Hill magazine and the American Legion tournament program. Ads also appear on a new Randolph County road map.