Maybe more people coming for tournaments will actually stay in town.

    In a sure sign of the improved lodging situation in Crookston – with the Crookston Inn & Convention Center under new ownership and being renovated, Cobblestone Hotel & Suites soon to be built, and AmericInn Lodge & Suites to expand – Park Board members this week were especially enthusiastic in reaction to the news from Parks & Recreation Director Scott Riopelle that Crookston Sports Center had landed the 2014 State PeeWee A Tournament next March.

    Instead of expressing concerns about most of the players and their families abandoning limited lodging opportunities in Crookston in favor of hotels in Grand Forks, board members said the community is going to have to be sure to get the word out that when it's time to reserve rooms, Crookston will not only have more rooms available, the rooms will be better than in the past. "We were eligible so we grabbed it as soon as we could," Riopelle said of securing the tournament.

    It's the "little things" that impress tournament attendees and keep them coming back, Riopelle said, adding that the whole community will want to be involved. For instance, a big banquet type of meal will likely be served the Thursday that the teams and their coaches and families pull into town. "We want to make a big splash and involve all of the restaurants and hotels," he said.

    "We've started planning immediately," Parks & Recreation Supervisor Scott Butt added. "We want to put our absolute best foot forward to show we're a class act with a class facility. We want to make this the best possible event we can."

    As part of the discussion, Butt and Riopelle added that Crookston this summer will host a Cal Ripken 12-year-old state baseball tournament, as well as Babe Ruth districts. Crookston's widely lauded baseball/softball facilities frequently attract tournaments, but the news that several youth sports tournaments are on their way to Crookston had At Large City Council Member Wayne Melbye feeling especially good about what the Crookston community has to offer.

    "We talk about investments in our facilities, but we worry about a lack of hotels or restaurants, but those things are starting to come up now," he said. "This is us in a nutshell. We don't have a lake, we don't have a shopping mecca, but this is what we have, this is what we can provide. We have to make sure we're ready and have quality folks ready to put on a good show."

    A lack of hotel rooms in the past has been the major stumbling block that will, hopefully, no longer be as big of an issue, Melbye continued. "It's hard to go out and do all the work to bring something here and then not get any of the gravy," he said. "You're told 190 kids are going to be here for a tourney but you're a business person and you don't see anybody. Why? Because they're not staying here, so they're probably not getting gas here or eating here, either. Now we have a new hotel coming, a revitalized one, and an expanding one. It's happening."