Why are sports tournaments still sidelined in Virginia Beach?

Posted at 6:14 PM, Jun 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-09 18:19:03-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - For James Spencer, the sight of a full storage unit in June is an empty feeling.

"I typically run through 150 dozen balls on an annual basis," Spencer said, looking at his Virginia Beach storage unit stacked with balls and buckets.

The equipment is not being used by Spencer, the owner and tournament director for Legendary Softball, because he's been forced to cancel three tournaments in Virginia Beach due to the spread of COVID-19. The Summer Scorcher, an 84-team event he says provided $1.6 million in economic impact to Virginia Beach last year, is scheduled to start in one month.

"Other parts of our own state are hosting events in phase two and we're not able to," Spencer revealed when asked what his biggest gripe is with the inability to host his tournaments. "They are good folks at [Virginia Beach] Parks and Rec and the Convention and Visitors Bureau, i just think their hands are tied because upper-level officials do not give them the benefit of the doubt they can bring in an economic impact."

In attempt to get some of his questions answered, we took Spencer's concerns to Virginia Beach Parks and Rec.

"Every department I'm aware of is following the exact same process in reopening," Jane Jagodzinski told News 3 Sports Director Adam Winkler.

Jagodzinski is the Sports Management Coordinator with Virginia Beach Parks and Recreation. In the last several months, due to COVID-19, she and her department have been forced to cancel more than 10 tournaments - many of which were scheduled ath the Princess Anne Athletic Complex.

"Right now, we don't have any sports going on in our department," Jagodzinski explained. "For people like my unit, it is heartbreaking."

James has to make a decision this week as to whether or not to move, modify or cancel his 84-team Summer Scorcher set to start July 9th.

"I have been contacted by other localities within the state as well as outside of the state to possibly move my event to them this year and possibly permanently," Spencer, a Virginia Beach resident admitted. "But I would prefer to have all my events in Virginia Beach if possible."

"We want to get back to it, but we want to do make sure we can do it in the manner Virginia Beach is known for - and keep everyone's safety in mind," Jagodzinski added.

In time, Spencer's storage unit will no longer be full. He, along with many others, are hoping that coincides with Virginia Beach's fields no longer being empty.