(WBIR- Sevier County) Pigeon Forge is known for its tourist attractions, but the city is pursuing youth sports tournaments as another way to bring people to the city, said Tom Adkinson, a spokesperson for the Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism.
He said the tournaments bring people for the sports, but it also allows families to make a vacation out of visiting East Tennessee.
"One significant reason that Pigeon Forge is popular with sports tournaments is all of the family activities that are part of Pigeon Forge," Adkinson said.
States across the southeast are trying to attract sports tournaments because their climates are suitable for outdoor sports, he said, and the most popular youth sports cities want to bring in are softball, lacrosse, gymnastics, cheerleading, and volleyball.
Adkinson said the tournaments have been so successful that Pigeon Forge is planning a baseball complex that will open in 2016.
This week, Pigeon Forge is hosting the 2014 World Series of the Sporting Events Association of America (SEAA). The opening ceremonies for the tournament were held Sunday at the Smokies Stadium.
The event is bringing in 108 teams from 16 states, said Freddie Mullins, owner of SEAA.
"It definitely could have went anywhere," she said, "but we felt like this was the unique place to have it because of what Pigeon Forge has to offer."
Mullins said this is the 14th year they have held the tournament in Pigeon Forge, and they plan to keep it there because it allows families to enjoy more than the softball games.
"We can't get them to the field unless they're playing ball because they want to go out and have fun," she said.
The 007 softball team from Louisiana entered in the tournament for the first time, said Mark Maher, 007 softball coach.
Maher vacationed in Pigeon Forge a few weeks ago, and said he was excited about bringing his team to East Tennessee.
"I told them before we left—you turn the switch on when we get ready to play," he said. "When we finish the game win or lose, we turn the switch off. We have fun and prepare for the next ball game."