Once a quarter, our staff selects a member of the Fort Smith community to be named a Hometown Hospitality Hero.
Fort Smith and our region benefit tremendously from conventions and events brought to our area. Attracting and retaining these happenings relies on the efforts of everyone in the hospitality industry. Often, Fort Smith attracts these conventions, events, and tournaments after individual local citizens decide they’d like their group’s event to be held in Fort Smith and take the initiative to bring a potential event to our Convention & Visitors Bureau’s attention. We work with these citizens to win the bid, attract attendees and help their idea come to life. The citizens that our staff feels have brought the most positive exposure and economic impact to our city we name Hometown Hospitality Heroes. We appreciate these people and all of those who help us bring more visitors to Fort Smith more than we can say!
Every event that takes place in Fort Smith has a dedicated individual behind it, and a compelling story that lead to its creation and success. Mike McKeown and the “Southeast Global Shootout” baseball tournament are a perfect example.
In the fall of 2011, Mike McKeown lost his job in Northwest Arkansas. Married with three children, he had always kept a plan B in the back of his mind should the family sustain a sudden drop in income. As a baseball enthusiast, he had formed friendships with other coaches and parents whose sons were involved in baseball. He loved the game and wanted to put a tournament together and now he had the time and the motivation.
He felt compelled to make it happen quickly, and by the end of October, 2011 the event was coming together. He set up a website, http://www.arkansaspremiertournament.com/to serve as the cornerstone of his marketing efforts. Mike followed up his on-line marketing efforts by making lots of personal contacts with friends that he had connections with in the USSSA baseball league for boys ages 7-14. Local teams and buddies within the region helped him to expand the tournament. Mike is so dedicated to great customer service and being responsive to inquiries that he makes it a point to answer his phone 24/7.
Mike utilizes the Kelly Park, the church league fields. He tells us that without the Fort Smith Church League fields; this event would not be possible. He is also grateful of the support he has received from all the lodging establishments that house the teams that play in the event.
The “Southeast Global Shootout” was an inaugural event in the spring of last year. When Mike McKeown, event organizer, began to organize this event, he had the expectation of having approximately 36 teams participating. To his surprise, it quickly surpassed that number and kept growing into a 126 team event with teams coming from seven states: Arkansas, Kansas Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, Tennessee, and Louisiana. To their surprise, this tournament was grabbing national attention in the baseball world.
Mike uses Fort Smith as the host city. The hotels and Kelly Park are centrally located for the visiting teams. This tournament serves AA teams to Major Ball Teams. Throughout this three day event, Mike uses a number of fields to accommodate each team, meet their standards and expectations 80% (Approximately 1500 Room Nights) of all teams traveling in from outside the River Valley, will stay in Fort Smith. The 1500 room nights results in $225,000 in direct economic impact and $675,000 in total Economic impact.
Mike tells us, “I will make a tournament that you cannot resist!”…and we agree. We are grateful that you were inspired to bring the Southeast Global Shootout back to Fort Smith in 2013. The event is scheduled for April 19-21, 2013 and as of February 22, 2013, 90% of the lodging establishments are already full that weekend. Mike wants to grow the event even more ….he just needs some more hotels….investors are you out there?
Thanks Mike McKeown and volunteers for continuing to bring Southeast Global Shootout Baseball Tournament to Fort Smith!