The lobby of Comfort Inn was packed Saturday morning with Little League World Series goers preparing for a day of baseball and as visitors came to the front desk General Manager Brian Robertson had to break the bad news to them. There were no rooms for the night.
"Not today," he said.
According to Jason Fink, executive vice president of the Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce, last year's World Series brought the area about $30 million. And although he said they don't make projections each year, he guessed the local economy would get about the same boost this year.
CRAIG S. McKIBBEN JR./Sun-Gazette
Paul Ghiorzi, left, and his son Christian, 15, center, of Fairfield, Conn., check into the Genetti Hotel Wednesday evening with the help of guest services employees Keeley Loy, second from right, and Amy Clifton. Ghiorzi’s son Michael (not pictured), plays for the team from Fairfield, Conn., representing the New England Region.
"(The World Series) provides to a number of local businesses the foot traffic at the end of the summer. The hotels are all full," Fink said.
And although some thought that having a local team (Keystone, from neighboring Clinton County) in the Series last year hurt the economic impact on the area since family and friends weren't staying in hotels, Fink that was not the case. Since the area may have lost money in lodging, he said it more than made up for it in merchandise sale, such as T-shirts.
Robertson said his inn, 1959 E. Third Street, starts getting pretty busy at the beginning of the World Series since all 16 teams still are in the hunt for the championship.
He added that some wait until the first day of the Series to find a room but "by that time we're sold out."
Even with this being the first year for 901 Guest House, 901 W. Fourth St., owner Christina Ertel said she has seen some business from those visiting the World Series.
And those who have stayed at the bed and breakfast already have put in requests to stay there next year.
Jim Shillenn, owner of Julie's Coffee, 33 W. Third St., said he has seen much more traffic in his business because the location is close to so many hotels.
"We see an impact (from the World Series) and I would say that we have seen ... more of an impact since there are more hotels downtown," he said.
Since most of the cafe's drinks are hot, Shillenn said this time of the year usually is slower for his type of business but the Little League crowd has helped to keep it busy.
"If we didn't have Little League, we would be slower," he said.
As it is along the Grand Slam Parade's route, Gustonian Gifts, 357 Pine St., also had some extra foot traffic.
"We've had a lot more people than the last couple of years," said Denyse Miele, who handles the stores advertising. "... Sometimes if they're here for the parade they see your store and they come back."
During the Series, Miele said the store adjusts its hours to make sure it is open when games aren't going on.
Fink said there is one piece advice the chamber gives to its members.
"We encourage them to look at their hours," he said. "We encourage restaurants to stay open later because most people stay until the last game."
Other than the obvious businesses, such as lodging and food, Fink said others, such as travel and gas stations, see an impact from the Series.
Not only does the World Series help area businesses, but Fink said it helps to market the area.
"You can't quantify the value of having Little League Baseball and Little League World Series in our community," Fink said.