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      New sports fields are a homerun for the Grand Strand economy

      New sports fields opening all over the Grand Strand are drawing more teams than ever before to attend spring training tournaments in Myrtle Beach. Nearly 60 colleges are here just this month.

      Even though it barely hit 70 degrees in Myrtle Beach on Monday, that's paradise for some of those teams. Just ask Louis and Clark Community College Head Coach Ronda Roberts. Her girls softball team came all the way from Godfrey, Illinois to play in a spring pre-conference.

      "We've literally been practicing inside for two months since January, so we're very excited to be outside and to play in this weather, because we just haven't had that opportunity at home," Roberts explained.

      New sports fields popping up, including the new North Myrtle Beach Park and Sports Complex and the Grand Park in Market Common, are luring athletes to the Grand Strand.

      Myrtle Beach Sports Tourism Manager Tim Huber says that means money. Huber says in the month of March alone, spring events and tournaments can pump millions of dollars into the local economy.

      "The month of March, by the time we're all said and done, we're probably looking at a five to a six million dollar direct spending impact through sports," Huber said.

      Coach Roberts' team will stay in the area up to a week or longer, and when they're not playing, they're spending. "The way our games are scheduled, we should be able to play in the morning and then also be able to go out to dinner and check out the town a little bit in the evening."

      After winning both their games Monday, they'll have plenty to celebrate.

      Huber said he's expecting many of the first time visitors and teams to not only come back for tournaments, but for the summer tourism season.