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Virginia Little League Tournament a win for sports tourism

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TRIANGLE — More than 1,000 people are expected to descend on Triangle next weekend for the Virginia Little League Championship.

Teams from across the state will travel to Prince William County, from as far as eight hours away, to play for the chance to win and move on to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa.

A total of 35 games will be played over the tournament’s five days, July 20 to 25. On the field, more than 500 children and teens will take the field and play baseball. Parents, friends, family members, and baseball players are expected to stay in area hotels, eat at restaurants, and shop at area stores.

Landing the tournament is a win for Discover Prince William, the county’s convention, and visitors bureau, which started a sports tourism program three years ago designed to attract such events to the county. The teams will play at the three-year-old Fuller Heights Park at 18511 Fuller Heights Road, just outside the main entrance to Quantico Marine Corps Base.

“It has lots of parking, and restrooms, so it’s a great place to hold the tournament,” said one event organizer Brendon Hannifin.

Teams from all 16 Little League divisions statewide will come to the county. Board members and parents of local Little Leaguers on the Dumfries-Triangle-Quantico Little League will play the role of advisor tour guide, telling parents where to take their children when they’re not on the field.

“One of the best things you can do is during the tournament is to get them into a movie theater. It’ cools ’em down,” added Hannifin.

So far, there have been 11 group hotel bookings over the course of the tournament in county hotels, with more expected, said Mark Kowaleski, of Discover Prince William. At least one local team from Vienna chose to stay at a hotel in Prince William to avoid fighting traffic congestion on area roads.

The event will kick off at the National Museum of the Marine Corps for a ticketed dinner on the night of Thursday, July 20. Organizers say it’s an opportunity to showcase one of the region’s premier destinations.

“This is great because I’ve been to these kick-off dinners before and it’s usually a hamburger on a bun, and you eat on a picnic table,” said Hannifin.

The next day teams will take the fields at Fuller Heights Park and play ball, each day of the tournament from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The first game of the Little League World Series is Aug. 17, 2017.

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