Officials are encouraging locals to put out signs welcoming PONY players.
By MAYSOON ABDELRASUL
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
WARREN — The Russians are coming.
Really they are. The Protect Our Nation’s Youth Girls Fast Pitch Softball National Tournament will begin Saturday in Warren with teams from the United States, Canada and Russia all competing to be champions.
The opening ceremonies will be Sunday at Warren G. Harding High School’s Mollenkopf Stadium.
A new partnership between nonprofit civic youth sport organizations in Mahoning and Trumbull counties made the event possible in the Mahoning Valley.
The Mahoning County Convention and Visitors Bureau teamed up with the Trumbull County Convention and Visitors Bureau and invested money that officials hope will have a major economic impact in the Valley.
Mary Ann Porinchack, president of the Trumbull County bureau, said this event will bring a lot of tourism.
George McCloud, president of the Mahoning County bureau, said he thinks that the PONY tournaments will help economic development because they bring money and attention to the Valley.
Stephanie Sferra of the Trumbull bureau said the players want to have fun and enjoy their time here.
Both bureaus helped to fund the tournament. Trumbull County spent $27,300 on renting the stadium, parking, opening ceremony expenses, field drying agents and food costs and distribution.
Mahoning County spent $41,000 for field rentals in both counties, field conversion, housing for umpires at Youngstown State University, along with cell phone service for PONY officials and other items.
The 300 teams will bring about 18,000 people to the Valley, officials said. Each team member averages two to three people traveling with them.
Russian teams will be hosted by Lordstown families with two girls per family.
Teams are also coming from Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Canada.
The tourism bureaus are encouraging local businesses to put signs up welcoming the PONY players to the Valley.