WHEELING - Thousands of people are converging on the Ohio Valley starting today, thanks to a four-day baseball tournament that hosts 156 teams.
And local restaurants, hotels and other businesses are eager to feel the Beast of the East Baseball Tournament's impact on their cash registers.
T.J.'s Sports Garden Manager Kent Brayec said his restaurant, located at 808 National Road, Wheeling is preparing for a large influx of customers because of the tournament that uses 32 fields across the valley.
Photo by Shelley Hanson
T.J.’s Sports Garden server Suzette Pramesa poses Wednesday with members of the Northern Ohio Hurricanes, Medina, Ohio, baseball team. Clockwise, from left, are Pramesa and teammates Mike Faschian, Andy Sokolowski, Cory Teachout, Brian Hrdlicka, Conner Green and Geoff Hardy. The team is a Beast of the East participant.
''It will start picking up (today). We're looking for a record-breaking crowd on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. We have extra staff and food ordered,'' he said. ''We know it comes every year, and we're well prepared. It's a big boost for us and the whole valley.''
Cindy Johnson, general manager of the McLure House Hotel, located at 1200 Market St., Wheeling said every year she sets aside a number of rooms in anticipation of baseball players needing a place to stay. This year, 14 rooms have been reserved for the tournament. She noted most of her rooms continue to be occupied by natural gas drilling workers.
''We're sold out. ... We set aside a block of rooms and as teams call ... the rooms are taken from the block and designated for specific teams,'' she said. ''We want to be good neighbors. They have supported us in the past, and we want to help them. We set aside rooms for various functions.''
And with hard play comes dirty uniforms, which for some may prompt a need to wash the garments. Glo-Tone and St. Clair Cleaners owner Pete Yochum said he still receives a few customers from the tournament. He has laundry locations in Wheeling and one in St. Clairsville.
''We used to see more. It helps us, but not like it helps the restaurants. It helps, but we don't see the volume we used to,'' Yochum said.