The American Legion Regional Baseball Tournament is returning to Blue Springs.

The American Legion Regional Baseball Tournament is returning to Blue Springs.
The Blue Springs Post 499/Fike team will be the host team of the regional tournament in 2010, when it comes back to Hidden Valley Park’s main field, No. 2.
“I think it’s a great thing for the city of Blue Springs,” Post 499 manager Jim Moran said.
The tournament will feature eight different teams – the state Legion champions from Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota, as well as Fike, who will automatically play in the tournament because it is the host.
Fike played in the tournament in both 2001 and 2002 as the host team.
“At the same time, we don’t want to just host and not compete,” Moran said. “Both times we hosted, we had a competitive ballclub. You don’t want to host, spend all the money, plan everything and then not compete.”
There are some changes in the tournament from the last time Blue Springs hosted.
First, the Fifth District – which hosts all of the local American Legion teams – has moved from the South Central Region to the Central Plains Region. In 2001 and 2002, the teams came from Missouri, Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Mississippi and Nebraska.
Second, the tournament is no longer pool play, but straight double elimination.
Blue Springs – which will also host this year’s four-team state championship tournament – was selected as the site after beating out Springfield, Mo.
“It was Missouri’s chance to host it,” Moran said. “And I felt like if it was going to come to Missouri that Blue Springs did a good job last time. There was a rating system. People went around without me knowing. It came down to us and Springfield.
“Springfield had the better facility, as they were going to use the Cardinals’ minor league stadium. But we had better access to airports. In fact, we graded out better in every category but one (facility) and we have a really good facility.”
Because of American Legion rules, every team has to stay at the exact same hotel. Because no hotel in Blue Springs is large enough, the teams will be staying at the Hilton Garden Inn in Independence, right off I-70 and less than five miles from the park.
However, though the teams will be at that hotel, Moran anticipates other local hotels getting a lot of use from family members who travel to watch the tournament.
Moran said the biggest challenge of the tournament is trying to raise the necessary funds. In order to host the tournament, the host team must provide $15,000 to the national office.
“There are also other expenses,” he said. “We’re going to try to make money any way we can. We’ll run the gate, so that will help. We’ll also be counting on the support of the business community.”
Moran has already set up committees to help get the event organized. He also has backup sites available in case of inclement weather to help get the games played in a timely manner.
In addition, Moran is looking into hosting a banquet, using a Blue Springs company to cater the food. Also, Rod’s Sports – another Blue Springs company – will be providing T-shirts for the tournament.
Overall, Moran said he’s excited about the challenge of hosting this tournament again.
“I think it’s exciting for the American Legion Fifth District,” he said. “The district coaches are going to be doing things to help. I think we have an excellent facility. Personally, I have a very supportive coaching staff and supporting people working on committees who have been helping since 1994. I also have to thank the American Legion Post (499) and Fike Corporation. Without them it wouldn’t even be possible.
“I’d be totally crazy to attempt that without their support. (Some people) have told me I’m crazy anyway.”