LIVERMORE -- The players are arriving, the organizers are gearing up, and the ballpark is ready for prime time. But the local impact of hosting the Little League Intermediate Division World Series -- on and off the field -- remains to be seen.
With few clues for what to expect for the first-ever series of its kind, tournament officials say the eight-day event, which starts Monday in Livermore, could inject millions into the local economy through lodging, shopping and dining.
Dave Wetmore, the tournament's director and administrator of Little League's California District 57, said if the response he's been receiving is any indication, it could be a very big deal indeed.
"We've had emails from all over the world, and so many hits to the event's website, we had to increase our bandwidth five times," he said. "As it gets closer, people are getting very excited."
The series is bringing 10 youth teams from Asia, Canada, Latin America, Puerto Rico and six regions of the United States -- including a host team from Pleasanton.
Little League International is footing the bill for flights and hotel rooms for nearly 1,000 players, coaches and workers. Hotel bills are expected to run around $100,000 for players alone and at least $500,000 for their families, who are paying their own way.
With each team bringing an entourage of about 50 people, the event will be a sure economic boost for local restaurants and merchants, Wetmore said.
"These are families that will be here for 10 days," Wetmore said. "They will eat locally, drink locally and shop like it's going out of style."
City officials said it's nearly impossible to predict the series' economic impact on Livermore, but assistant city manager Troy Brown said Livermore will surely benefit from additional sales and hotel occupancy taxes.
"It's hard to parse out a dollar amount," he said. "(But) it's going to be a positive event. We see this as another way to put Livermore on the map. We're certainly excited."
As a bonus, Livermore will get additional attention with the arrival of ESPN for a national telecast of the tournament's championship game on Monday, Aug. 5.
"That kind of exposure is the kind that money can't buy," Brown said. "The more we can get, the more it will help us in our mission of being a premier city in the East Bay."
Livermore beat out metropolitan cities like Chicago and Vancouver, Canada for the honor of hosting the event. Wetmore said the area's history of intermediate 50/70 baseball -- a new Little League division with longer basepaths and pitchers' mounds pushed farther back -- sunny weather and easy accessibility all contributed to the winning bid.
"We've never really had a Little League World Series in the West before," Wetmore said. "We really show off what Little League is all about. We're small-town America, a friendly place with businesses that are supportive; that goes a long way."
All tournament games will be held free of charge at Livermore's Max Baer Park. The Livermore Area Recreation and Park District pulled out all the stops to prep the field for its moment in the sun. LARPD division supervisor Jim Carlson said Little League International and LARPD have spent more than $100,000 -- about $12,000 from the district -- to renovate the ballpark, including adding lighting and seating, upgrading scoreboards, expanding the field dimensions, and putting in a grass field. The effort began four years ago.
"We've spent a lot of time to make sure it looks right and plays right," Carlson said. "We're excited to have the opportunity and we're confident, we put the work in to put on a good tournament."
Carlson said LARPD expects up to 1,000 fans per game; with room for about 250 in the bleachers and the rest in the grass beyond the outfield fence. Those who do head out for a game will find all the necessary amenities, food vendors and parking available at nearby Emma C. Smith Elementary School and Mendenhall Middle School, with some overflow into local neighborhoods.
Wetmore said the local tournament committee is looking to raise $200,000 to fund the event and is counting on an outpouring of community support.
"If we do it right, (Little League will) be back here next year," he said.
Contact Jeremy Thomas at 925-847-2184. Follow him at Twitter.com/jet_bang.
The first-ever Little League Intermediate Division World Series will be held at Livermore's Max Baer Park from July 30-Aug. 5. The championship game will be nationally televised by ESPN on Monday, Aug. 5.
A welcoming parade and opening ceremony will be held Monday, July 29. The parade begins at 6 p.m. at 59 S L St. then travels on First Street to the Bankhead Theater in downtown Livermore. The Pleasanton National Little League team (the District 57 representative) will play its first game against the winner of the Central Region (TBD) on Tuesday, July 30 at 6 p.m. For a full schedule of events and games, visit www.intermediateworldseries.org.