A certain charm has lured the North American Fastpitch Association to host the "B" National Championships in Lawrence for the fourth year in a row.
"People love the atmosphere of (Lawrence)," said Kala Bray, NAFA assistant state director. "They are close to a metro area, so they don't have to travel far to experience bigger things."
The athletes are divided into three age groups: 10-and-under, 12-and-under and 18-and-under. The championships will involve about 3,000 visiting players, coaches, parents and fans. But more people were here last year.
"The number of teams this year has dropped off quite a bit," said Bob Sanner, of the Lawrence Convention and Visitors Bureau. "You can maybe chalk it up to the price of gasoline. We can say that we're planning on about $500,000 in total direct spending."
Hosting such an event benefits the city and its businesses.
"The hotels really enjoy this event," Sanner said. "That Monday-through-Thursday business for hotels is really difficult, so when this event rolls into town they get really excited because it's generating anywhere between 250 and 300 rooms a night."
Out-of-state teams are expected to have large followings.
"They all have a huge home fan base that travels with them, so we're not expecting a very big home-field advantage," said Barry Johnson, coach of the 10-and-under Lawrence Phenix team. " : But it's also great that people that aren't from Kansas get to experience Lawrence."
The competition is set to wrap up on July 19.