SULPHUR, LA (KPLC) - It's a big tournament and big for business.
The LHSAA state softball tournament begins at noon Friday. The tournament, known as Fast Pitch 56, hosts the top 56 teams from the seven classes across the state.
It's the 13th consecutive year the tournament will take place in Sulphur. It's a weekend local residents, businesses and teams all look forward to.
"It's a way for Southwest Louisiana to put their best foot forward, and to do something that impacts people statewide," Norman Farr, director of Sulphur Parks and Recreation, said. "It gives us something to be proud of."
According to the Southwest Louisiana Convention and Visitors Bureau, business from players and their families is expected to bring in millions of dollars.
"Although the tournament is played in Sulphur, we have girls and their families that are planning to stay in hotel rooms across the parish," Megan Hartman, Senior Marketing Manager at CVB, said.
With more than 20,000 people expected to come to Sulphur over the next two days, hotels began preparing weeks ago.
"Usually, we'll stay booked as far as a month in advance," Brant Parish, the general manager at Candlewood Suites said. "Sometimes we get calls even before that if a team has a pretty good idea they are going to be in the tournament."
Business from the teams is something hotels and restaurants count on.
"We stay busy during the week at our property, but the weekends are sometimes a little slower, Parish said. It's an extra piece of business that really keeps us full."
Parish said hotel employees look forward to hosting the players.
"We put our banners up to welcome our team," he said. "We are catering in breakfast for them so they can get a good start and hopefully win."
You'll see the welcome signs at restaurants and businesses across the city.
"Our T-shirt this year says 'welcome home, we are glad you're back,'" Farr said. "I think that's how the players view us, and they are really excited to be here.