Johnson City awarded USA Softball tournament at Winged Deer Park in 2023 – Johnson City Press (subscription)

Johnson City will host a major softball tournament at Winged Deer Park in 2023, edging out two other cities for the event.

Visit Johnson City Director Brenda Whitson said the city has been awarded the USA Softball Girls’ 18-Under Class A Fast Pitch National Championship.

Tourism officials expect the tournament could bring anywhere from 50 to 60 teams to the area from July 17-23 and generate at least $1 million in visitor spending in the community.

Whitson said games will be played at Winged Deer Park’s forthcoming four-field baseball and softball complex.

In June, Johnson City hired CHA Consulting Inc. to design and develop additional diamond fields on 37 acres the city bought in 2018 beside Winged Deer Park. During its meeting on Oct. 21, the City Commission authorized an additional payment to the consultant to account for an increase in the project scope.

The new complex will include four new turf softball fields and three natural grass soccer fields. The city is also expanding a planned maintenance building to include an umpire locker room. Three turf softball fields will also be usable as soccer fields.

The total cost of the project is about $15.5 million. City officials expect construction will start on the project in March 2022 and take an estimated 12 to 15 months.

In a press release, Visit Johnson City said it was one of three cities bidding on the softball tournament during the USA Softball Council’s annual meeting in Oklahoma City this week. Johnson City secured the event with more than 55% of the votes.

The other two cities were Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, and West Monroe, Louisiana. The four new turf fields at Winged Deer Park and the addition of an umpire locker room were key selling points, Whitson said.

Whitson estimated that Johnson City has hosted more than 20 similar tournaments over the past few decades.

Visit Johnson City said it will also partner with local Junior Olympic Commissioner Tina Gale to host the USA Softball 16-Under Gold Qualifier on June 3-5, 2022. That event will also occur at Winged Deer Park. The two top teams from the qualifier will compete in the 16-Under Gold Nationals.

USA Softball has been around since 1933 and has 120,000 teams representing more than 2 million athletes.