(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) For the second time this year, Heritage Park in St. Joseph is underwater. The crest of the Missouri River last month left the softball fields at the park underwater.
The trickle down effect of the flooding is now beginning to show with the city's parks department. Tournaments that are usually held on the fields are being cancelled.
"Right off the bat we lost the Missouri Western Invitational, which a pretty good size tournament," the parks department director Chuck Kempf said.
Other tournaments have cancelled this year already and now parks officials are looking ahead to July when another large tournament is scheduled to return to Heritage Park. This is the men's national fast-pitch softball national championship.
"That's a very prestigious tournament, very elite tournament," Kempf said. "St. Joseph has hosted it many times before. We've always been a great host and the community supports that tournament."
With just weeks to go until the tournament begins, park officials are concerned that it might not happen at Heritage Park or even in St. Joseph. That is if the water doesn't recede in time or if there is considerable damage to the fields.
"[We] are a little concerned that we are going to be challenged in that area," Kempf said. "Not completely sure what we are going to be able to do. We are looking at options."
Kempf says some of the options that are being explored include moving the tournament to Hyde Park or to Kansas City. If the tournament can't be held in St. Joseph it will lead to the loss of thousands of dollars in revenue for the city.
"The revenues are, I mean that is a big deal," Kempf said. "The parks department is losing revenue but then for the tournaments that have people coming in from out of town, obviously the city is losing out on sales tax revenue and hotel, motel tax revenue."
According to Kempf, thousands of dollars are brought to the community with every tournament held at the softball fields.
"We hate to lose that," he said. "That's one of the reason why we bring those events in. They are fun to to host, they are good for the community. They bring in tourism dollars, they bring people into the community that may have not otherwise come and you know bring awareness to what St. Joe has to offer."
The parks department currently has pumps pumping water out of the park. Kempf is hopeful that most of the water will be gone by early next week.
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