Last weekend was busier than usual in Ardmore.
Most Ardmore residents probably noticed the longer than usual lines at local restaurants and the heavier- than-anticipated traffic while out and about town.
Others may have chosen to stay home, avoid the heat and get their fill of the College Softball World Series. While watching the stars of today compete on the biggest stage of their lives, area viewers may have missed a chance to watch the stars of tomorrow during a showcase at Ardmore’s Regional Park.
With more than 25 college coaches on hand and 50 teams from four states, — Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana —  the showcase began with a clinic on Friday and back-to--back days of games from 8 a.m. to nearly midnight.
“It brought a lot of business to Ardmore,” Tess Stewart, recreation supervisor for the Ardmore Parks and Recreation Department said. “I talked to Kenneth Wilson (showcase organizer) and he said there wasn’t a hotel room left in Ardmore and there were lines at every place to eat. Everything was packed Saturday.”
The travel softball teams, featuring groups of 18-20 players ranging in age groups of 16 and under and 18 and under, took over Regional Park’s sports complex to kick off an intense summer.
Stewart said rumors even began to circulate that some business were forced to close because they ran out of food or were forced to close their drive through due to the long lines inside. Those business were contacted and though they said they were noticeable busy, their exact words were “slammed,” they were able to remain open and continued to serve the customers who understood the wait.
“It’s great for Ardmore when we can bring in tournaments like this, it’s great for our economy,” Stewart said. “It allows people who have never been here to see what Ardmore is all about. It’s nice and it helps us,(Kenneth Wilson) has already said that he wants to do two next year, one in the summer and one in the fall.”
Stewart said the size of Regional Park’s sports complex aids in drawing tournament organizers. With eight fields in two complexes, capacity isn’t a problem.
“These tournaments bring in a ton of people. they are coming in on Friday and they stay through Sunday or Monday,” Stewart said.  “With it being summer, they can stay longer and do more things.”
Tournaments will continue fairly regularly throughout the summer months and into October.
“Walmart was packed,” Stewart said “I went in there to buy water for the concession stand and they didn’t have any water or Gatorade left. It’s crazy the impact it has on the town.”
Stewart added that the amenities available at Regional Park adds to the draw of Ardmore.
“If you have a tournament, you can make thousands and it spreads to the city,” Stewart said.
Ardmore City Manager JD Spohn said the impact these tournaments have to the city’s revenue collections is quantifiable.
“We notice the difference in the summer,” Spohn said. “You can  definitely tell the difference in the months we have these tournaments.”
Spohn said that while cities comparable to Ardmore in size and population have similar sports complexes, Ardmore’s amenities sets the area apart from its competitors, along with its convenient location and abundance of hotel options.
“We usually get an equal amount of teams from Oklahoma and Texas,” Spohn said. “These are big-time events.”
Spohn said the efforts of the Parks and Recreation Department, along with the Ardmore Tourism Authority, the Hardy Murphy Coliseum and Heritage Hall help create a steady flow of tourist into the area, often filling in gaps between holidays and other timeframes associated with lake and natural recreation opportunities, creating steady revenue streams for both the public and private sectors.
“We are diverse when it comes to venues,” Spohn said. “The collective goal is to have several big events every month that brings people in so we can show off the town.”