December 22, 2014

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City of Avon the real winner at Frontier League all-star game

AVON — The sellout crowd at Wednesday’s Frontier League All-Star Game saw the East All-Stars defeat the West 4-2, but the real winners were the city of Avon and rest of Lorain County, where hotels rooms were full, restaurants were crowded and cash registers were ringing thanks to this week’s All-Star festivities.

The week’s activities also provided a chance for the region to show itself as a regional tourist attraction.

Frontier League commissioner Bill Lee said none of this would have been possible without a coordinated effort between the Lake Erie Crushers and the local government.

“This all started with the commitment of Crushers owner Steven Edelson and the continued cooperation of (Avon Mayor James) Smith. This has really been a match made in heaven,” said Lee, who is in his 18th year at the helm of the Frontier League.

Lee said that players, owners, front office members from around the Frontier League and their family members filled between 300-400 hotel rooms this week. But according to Smith, the impact goes well beyond that.

“This isn’t just for Avon this is for all of Lorain County. We’ve put our best foot forward this week. We have people here from seven states and we’re showing off Lorain County as a destination area,” Smith said. “The stores and restaurants have been filled. The owners had a golf outing today and got to experience our great golf courses. This whole week has been good advertising for our region.”

The building of All Pro Freight Stadium and the arrival of the Crushers in 2009 was a turning point for a city and a region that had seen its share of tough times.

“We struggled through a recession that lasted about 15 years but this gives us a chance to show off how we are now a destination city. You can do it all in Lorain County,” said Smith, who added “When I became mayor you couldn’t buy a pair of socks in this town but now if you talk to the young people they think of Avon as a “cool” city and they want to stay and be a part of what we created.”

According to Crushers general manager Daniel Helm there were two reasons the team wanted to host the
All-Star Game.

“First, we wanted to show off the Frontier League to the community and show the people how great the caliber of play is. Secondly, we wanted to show off Avon and this entire region to the rest of the league,” Helm said. “Getting people to know what this area has to offer not only brings in fans but it also makes us a top destination for players as well.”

Over a year’s worth of preparation went into planning the All-Star festivities.

“The Crushers organization did an unbelievable job this week. Everything was so organized,” Lee said. “They handled every detail. The things like transportation that the fans don’t see, it was all top-notch.”

The All-Star Game was just the first of many big sporting events that will be played at All Pro Freight Stadium. The Crushers recently announced that the 2012-2014 Mid-American Conference baseball tournaments will be played in Avon.

“Back when we first proposed building this stadium and the idea of bringing baseball to Avon some people were against it,” Smith said. “But this has turned out better than what I envisioned.”

Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or ctsports@chroniclet.com.