Patriots Park might never look the same.
The park in Grovetown will be overrun this weekend with more than 30 fast-pitch softball teams from all over the Southeast.
The teams, made up of 18-and-under and 16-and-under girls softball players, will participate in the Georgia Rockers 2006 Tournament, a three-day event starting Friday.
All games will be played at Patriots Park, and Tournament Director Mike Leverett said coaches from at least 20 different colleges will be there to evaluate the talent.
"You'll see more people at this tournament than you have ever seen at any event in Columbia County," Leverett said.
The tournament was started last year to raise money for the Georgia Rockers' five teams, but Leverett said they might not profit at all from this year's tournament. A contract between Patriots Park and a local caterer gave exclusive rights to the Augusta-based vendor to sell concessions.
Leverett said money brought in from food and beverage sales is the team's main money-maker.
"I don't want to pitch a big fit, but the problem is this is a fundraiser and if we don't get concessions we don't make any money," Leverett said. "I'm renting the complex, and I've got to pay for umpires and a rec person to clean up, and then we don't even get the concessions."
Columbia County Community and Leisure Services Division Director Barry Smith said the vendor pays $900 per month to sell concessions at regular Patriots Park events and pays extra for special events such as the softball tournament.
Smith said the Georgia Rockers could sell concessions but only if the contracted vendor opts not to sell at the tournament. Multiple calls to the vendor Thursday and Friday were not answered.
Without concessions, Leverett said he would be forced to take next year's tournament, along with 300-plus players and more than 1,000 out-of-town spectators, out of Columbia County.
"I don't want to move it, but that was just a slap in the face to me about the concessions. We may be over there working hard for nothing," Leverett said.
"We may have to go to Thomson or Diamond Lakes (in Augusta) next year - somewhere where we can sell stuff and make a little money. There's no sense in us doing it if we can't raise funds for the teams."
This year's tournament at Patriots Park will start at 4 p.m. on Friday. Registration for teams has already closed, but Leverett said admission to watch the event is $5 per day or $12 for the weekend. High school and college coaches will not be charged admission.
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