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Raiche said the city as a whole has been supportive of the team and their chance to host the tournament starting Aug. 16 and concluding with the championship game on Labor Day.
“The city council is excited about it,” Raiche said. “It’s a great way to showcase the community. Irish Stadium is known as a nice place to play. Teams from the Twin Cities call to play at it. Maple Lake has always been a good baseball town and people like to come out here so we’re trying to keep up with that tradition. It helps when you win. I think we picked up a lot of fans last year. We have a great fan base.”
Mayor Lynn Kissock agrees.
“The state tournament is a great opportunity to showcase our city and the hospitality of our citizens,” Kissock said. “It will bring revenue to our local businesses and allow for them to capture new fans as well.”
The Maple Lake Chamber of Commerce is also excited to have fans of several teams visiting the area.
“The Maple Lake business community, through the Chamber of Commerce, is looking forward to the tournament’s arrival to our area,” Chamber President Jeff Rivers said. “Events like this have great potential to bring business into the community.
“The Lakers are leading the way in creating the experience for the fans and players of the event in a manner that ensures the revenue generation for the team that they will appreciate,” Rivers continued. “The Chamber will support the event as requested and encourage businesses to create a welcoming, open presence that puts our best foot forward as a great place to live, work and do business.”
Raiche is thankful for that support and hopes the Lakers are playing in front of home fans in the championship game.
“There’s a chance if we make it to the championship game that we wouldn’t even play in Maple Lake,” Raiche said, referencing that Maple Lake is sharing hosting duties primarily with Delano, with Howard Lake as a third site. “That would be unfortunate. There are two classes and we don’t know if they’re putting one at one park and one at the other or both at one. Obviously, we’d like to have both games in Maple Lake, but it’s out of our hands.”
Regardless of that final decision, the Lakers, and Maple Lake as a whole, are primed for a profit.
“The state board splits the gate money and gives it to teams in the tournament based on the game share,” Raiche said, adding that the team will make the majority of their money from food, novelties and beer.
In total, paid attendance is expected to be about 15,000 at the three locations over the three weekends.
Raiche and his team are just excited to host the tournament, following their successful 2012 campaign.
“It couldn’t work out better for us to win last year and host it this year,” Raiche said. “It was a perfect storm for us.”
For those who can’t quite wait for baseball season, the Lakers’ appearance in the St. Patrick’s Day parade will provide a reminder of the past year and a peek at what is yet to come as they strive for a repeat performance.