Ballparks of America set to open July 7

Published: Jul. 7, 2016 at 4:55 AM CDT
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After years of renovation work, the Ballparks of America facility in Branson is now ready for opening day.

"Ballparks of America is a stay and play tournament facility. There are really only two in the country that do this," said Hamilton Chang, CEO of Ballparks of America.

Crews have been working since 2014 to convert the former Factory Merchants Mall, commonly called the Red Roof Mall, into a premier spot for youth baseball.

"We are building five fields currently. We have 150,000 square feet of team suites for the kids to stay in as a team together with their coaches and we have another 150,000 square feet of retail space," said Chang.

And if the playing fields look familiar, that's by design.

"They are tributes to other fields around the country with Major League Baseball. We have Busch Stadium as our crown jewel, which will have the most seating capacity. We will also have Tiger stadium, a tribute to Wrigley field, a tribute to Ebbets Field which is the old Brooklyn Dodgers stadium, and a tribute to the Boston Red Sox Fenway Park.

Hundreds are expected to show up for the inaugural game, which is scheduled for Thursday, July 7 at 3:00 pm. City leaders say having this facility in Branson is a game changer.

"The fact that Ballparks of America is opening creates a new energy for our community, and any time you have anything new come to the community that's always a great thing. It brings new visitors and a new demographic," said Branson mayor Karen Best.

And that new demographic could bring a significant boost to the economy.

"The average person that travels here for baseball spends about $200 per day just on hotels and food so that adds a lot to our economy," said Best.

But beyond the dollars and cents city leaders are excited about this new attraction, and hope creates lifelong memories that keep visitors coming back.

"If we can get people to Branson we know we can make them fall in love with our area and keep coming back," said Best.

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