City extends welcome mat to Dixie Youth

Mary-Glenn Smith
Gonzales Mayor Barney Arceneaux, center, chats with Mike Hebert, left, and Doty Gautreau Wednesday in anticipation of the Dixie Youth World Series coming this weekend to the city. Gautreau is a Park and Recreation supervisor with the city, and Hebert heads a volunteer committee for the event. They’re standing in front of a new electronic scoreboard Arceneaux said was donated by Coca-Cola for the World Series.

After being selected as the host city for the Dixie Youth World Series two years ago, the big event is finally here for the City of Gonzales.

The much-anticpated tournament will bring 11 state champions from all across the Southeast for World Series play in both the Dixie Youth Majors 11-12 year old and Dixie Youth AAA, 9-10 year-old age brackets.

State championship winners from Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, Alabama, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, and the farthest away, Virginia, will compete for the championship in the five-day tournament.

In addition, a host team from Gonzales will also participate in both age groups.

With thousands of visitors pouring into the city, the tournament is expected to be a great economic boost for Gonzales.

“It’s going to be a boost for the city no doubt about it,” said Gonzales Mayor Barney Arceneaux. “Because of the economy being down right now, it will certainly be a boost to us to have that many folks here.”

Arceneaux also mentioned that every hotel room in Gonzales was booked for the tournament and some teams and family members were having to stay in Baton Rouge and surrounding areas.

“Taking what I have gotten from other World Series host cities, I estimate the tournament should bring in around $1.5 million dollars up to $1.8 million,” Arceneaux said. “That’s what we are expecting with all the hotels filling up, the shopping, people eating in restaurants, filling up their car with gas and such.”

Gonzales was chosen as the host city for the tournament by being selected after placing a bid with National Directors of Dixie Youth baseball.

“When you put in a bid you not only talk about the teams itself you have to provide the fields, have a enough parking, enough hotels,  enough eating establishments, things of that nature,” Arceneaux explained. “They check all of that.”

The last time the city hosted a Dixie Youth World Series was in 1989, when the 13- to 15-year division played in Gonzales for the championship. This year’s tournament features 9- to 10-year olds and 11- to 12-year olds. City officials are happy they were able to bring Dixie Youth baseball back this year.

“Former Mayor Bertholot put in the bid, and we were able to get it which needless to say, we are very excited about it,” Arceneaux said.

The Dixie Youth World Series festivities will kick off Friday with an Around the Horn and Home Run Derby at T-Joe Parks at 2 p.m. and opening ceremonies at EA’s Spartan Stadium at 7 p.m.

“There is going to be a Mardi Gras theme parade, some fireworks, everybody will be there; all your teams, all your players, all the parents, grandparents etc.,” Arceneaux said about Friday night’s opening ceremonies.  “We are expecting anywhere from 5,000 to 6,000 people.”

Actual play with start Saturday at 3:30 p.m. and go through Thursday with Championship games at 10  and 11 a.m. and 6 and 7 p.m. if necessary.

For a complete schedule of Dixie Youth World Series events, visit the city’s Web site at www.gonzalesla.com.