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American Legion shifting regional tourney to water-safe field in Edwardsville after rain dampened games in ’15


From Illinois Business Journal news services

EDWARDSVILLE – Sponsors of the American Legion Great Lakes Regional baseball tourney are moving the six-day event to Edwardsville this year to prevent a recurrence of last year’s near washout.

The games are being shifted from Hopkins Field at Gordon Moore Community Park in Alton to Roy E. Lee Field at the Simmons Baseball Complex at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

“The Simmons Baseball Complex, with an artificial surface and state-of-the-art drainage system, is pretty well rain proof. Rain delays, rain outs and finding an alternative venue outside the River Bend presented a logistics and financial hardship in 2015 that we simply cannot afford to repeat,” Regional Tournament Director, Derrick Ater, of Lewiston, Idaho, said in a final report submitted to American Legion Baseball in Indianapolis.

The Great Lakes Regional Host Committee is led by Regional Tournament Director and Metro East Bears General Manager Dennis Sharp.

“A sudden wave of summer storms really took a toll on Hopkins Field at the onset of the 2015 tournament,” Sharp said in a release. “Everyone involved had to scramble to find and then finance use of an alternative venue that was playable. The participating teams were very gracious but it was a mental and physical drain on everyone. We owe it to the players and American Legion Volunteers to play the 2016 tournament where weather won’t be an issue. “

Last year, the host team’s game was forced to move to GCS Field in Sauget (home of the Gateway Grizzlies) because Hopkins Field became unplayable after a cloud burst.

The partnership between Alton Post 126 and Edwardsville Post 199 in hosting the 2015 American Legion Great Lakes Regional at Lloyd Hopkins field “was a very successful endeavor,” noted Wally Owczarzak, Alton Post 126 American Legion Commander. “It was truly exciting to watch our boys receive the runner-up trophy and almost advance to the World Series.”

He said he is looking forward to having Alton Post 126 continuing the partnership with Edwardsville Post 199 in hosting the 2016 American Legion Great Lakes Regional at Roy E. Lee field at SIUE.

The official announcement followed thoughtful consideration of all interests – players, communities involved, sponsor support, facility, and the future of American Legion Baseball, he said.

The 2016 Great Lakes Regional Tournament will be held in early August.

In addition to Sharp, the Great Lakes Regional Host Committee is led by Operations/Event Ceremonies/Assistant Director – Patrick McGinnis; Sponsorship Chair – Matt McSparin; Media & Public Relations/Ticket Sales – Ron Tanner; and Video/Promotion – Rick Vaughn.

In his final report to American Legion Baseball, Regional Tournament Director Ater praised the Alton effort.

“In truth, without the tireless (and cheerful) efforts of Dennis (Sharp) and all of these fine individuals (the local tournament host committee) this tournament simply would not have been the phenomenal success that it was.”

Sharp said The Atrium Hotel, the Grandpa Gang, more than 30 local and regional sponsors, food vendors, and scores of local volunteers “were wonderful to work with.”

Owczarzak said half of the Regional Host Squad Metro East Bears legion roster comes from Edwardsville.

“We couldn’t be happier with SIUE and the community of Edwardsville stepping up to accommodate this move”.

The American Legion Baseball Headquarters in Indianapolis publishes a manual of expectations and protocols for host communities to follow. This places a considerable amount of scrutiny on the local organizers to protect the quality and integrity of the tournament’s rich tradition of excellence. They stress that a field’s resiliency in the event of poor weather condition factor into the selection of host sites. That includes everything from the field and staff to player and umpire housing to transportation and management of the finances. Everything is audited by ALB Headquarters in Indianapolis.

For tourney information contact: Sharp, (618) 920-8938 or

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