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WICHITA, Kansas – The National Baseball Congress has seen a steady decline in the number of out-of-state teams wanting to participate in the tournament in Wichita.
It’s prompted several changes by the NBC hoping to keep the tournament alive.
The National Baseball Congress is hoping to continue its long standing tradition in Wichita and that’s providing baseball around the clock every July.
But this year’s tournament will be a little different.
NBC is dividing the tournament into a two week 16-team double elimination format that will allow a quicker turn around for winning teams.
“In the past it has been a 32 team double elimination format,” said Casey Walkup, tournament director for National Baseball Congress.
Teams traveling from as far away as Alaska and California have expressed concerns over the tournament format.
They say travel arrangements are becoming too costly and the long wait time between games has meant paying for extra lodging costs in Wichita.
“It’s a hindrance at some point in time so we’re doing everything we can to provide them with benefits, compensations, and allow them to bring their teams here,” said Walkup.
The NBC tournament is owned by the City of Wichita, but is managed by the Wichita Wingnuts.
“We want the fans to have the type of experience they had in the past with teams from all over,” said Gary Austerman, one of the owners of the Wichita Wingnuts. “The economy had some things with the fact that the travel kind of impeded things.”
The City of Wichita tells KSN News the Wichita Wingnuts are behind on two tournament lease payments to the city– totaling $66,000.
The Wingnuts are also protesting a $72,000 water bill from the city as well.
“We’ve always communicated with the city and it’s always been a situation where there’s been an explanation or a reason like the water bill,” said Austerman. “We protested and we’re still waiting to see what the actual bill is.”
The Wichita Wingnuts tell us they’re in agreement with the city to pay the lease payments by November 1st.
Both sides believes these changes to the tournament can only make the NBC more viable for the long term.