Hotel rooms limited in Aberdeen during state softball tournament

Hotel rooms limited in Aberdeen during state softball tournament
Published: May. 30, 2023 at 11:27 PM CDT
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ABERDEEN, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - This weekend, 24 high school softball teams and their fans will be in Aberdeen for the first ever state tournament, but hotel space is now limited.

A brand new softball field at Northern State University and the new fields at the Players Complex in Aberdeen caught the eye of Jo Auch, an Assistant Executive Director for the South Dakota High School Activities Association, when she was looking for a spot to hold the first softball state tournament.

On top of the new facilities, the city of Aberdeen was happy to accommodate the event with temporary fencing to meet regulation standards. Classes AA, A and B will all play in the Hub City.

”They were more than willing to work with us, and I just said, ‘You know what, for the first year, I’d love to keep everybody together.’ That way, I got my hands in the cookie jar. I’m in charge of softball, and I can make sure that, hopefully, everything is going to go according to plan for the weekend. So, that’s why we chose Aberdeen,” said Auch.

However, concerns about the lack of hotel rooms available have landed on Auch’s desk.

“There’s just a handful here and a handful there left, so that’s something we’ll keep an eye on. We felt confident that we were going to have enough rooms to be able to accommodate, and we’re finding out that maybe that’s something we’re going to have to review after the state tournament,” said Auch.

Auch thinks the lack of hotel rooms could be due to teams who didn’t qualify for the tournament not cancelling previous reservations. The dilemma has made the SDHSAA reconsider having all three classes in the same spot in the future.

”We just didn’t know the first year what kind of crowd support is going to travel. You know, potentially, to have three classes there with the hotel situations that we’re running into, we’re going to have to take a good, hard look at that,” said Auch.

Aberdeen Central’s team didn’t qualify for the state tournament, which means all 24 teams will be coming from outside Aberdeen.

“That may be something down the road that we’re going to have to consider as this moves forward, because it’s not real easy for people to travel in and out of Aberdeen. There aren’t a lot of schools that are right around that have the ability to travel back and forth home,” said Auch.

The Alonzo Ward Hotel, the American Inn, Fairfield Inn & Suites, Hampton Inn & Suites, the Holiday Inn, the Best Western Ramkota, and My Place Hotels are all full on at least one night of the state tournament. Super 8, TownPlace Inn & Suites and the Quality Inn have minimal rooms available. The only hotel in Aberdeen with an abundance of space left is the White House Inn.

Aberdeen Area Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director, Casey Weismantel, said he is happy to help anyone looking for a last-minute booking, and alternative accommodations are also available.

”We have, probably, one of the nicest campgrounds in the state of South Dakota, Wylie Park and Storybook Land, two state campgrounds, Richmond and Mina just outside of the city limits. All of those are available for utilization, but some people even like to stay in hunting lodges,” said Weismantel.

Despite any accommodation issues, SDHSAA tentatively plans to host the state tournament in Aberdeen in 2024 as well.

”Do you know what? I would take any of these trials and tribulations for softball, just to have the girls have the opportunity to participate in this sport,” said Auch.

Class AA will play at Koehler Hall of Fame Field at NSU. Classes A and B will play at the Players Complex. The first pitches will be thrown at 10 a.m. on Thursday, and the tournament will conclude Saturday evening with the championship games.