As reported earlier this month, the 2011 ISC World Tournament is no longer being held in Kitchener as originally announced. The Kitchener Record ran this story earlier this month - thanks to TC for the tip.A nail in fastball’s coffin? Kitchener told death of ISC ‘would be our fault’March 12, 2010 By Christine Rivet, Record staff
KITCHENER – Not so long ago, Kitchener was heralded as the city that saved fastball.
Now, coming off its best showing ever on national and international diamonds, the city has been demonized as the game’s executioner.
“We were told that the death of the ISC would be our fault,” said Duncan Matheson, slated to be the chairperson for the 2011 International Softball Congress world tournament before Kitchener withdrew its offer to host the sport’s biggest event.
Kitchener-based organizers and the ISC reached an impasse on the tournament’s format, which led to a group of ball associations and service clubs, who would run the tournament and split the proceeds, to vote unanimously to walk away, Matheson said.
“We wouldn’t make the money that the groups expected to make,” he said. “And I’m not about to lead a group of volunteers down a rocky road.”
The American-based ISC, which oversees the world tournament, is exasperated because of the Kitchener group’s abrupt decision, said the organization’s executive director.
“We had an agreement I felt so confident in that we announced early (in May 2009) that Kitchener would be hosting next summer,” said Ken Hackmeister from his office in Farmington, Utah.
“This just hit me like a ton of bricks. I thought we had a lot of friends in Kitchener and I haven’t heard from any of them.”
Matheson said the ISC’s recent decision to combine the elite senior men’s bracket with the lesser intermediate men’s division diluted the event’s talent pool and wouldn’t draw the necessary spectators or sponsors to meet the tournament’s financial objectives.
Kitchener rose from obscurity in international softball circles to host the ISC worlds in 2002, 2006 and again at the last minute in 2007 when Decatur, Ill., pulled out.
When the Quad Cities of Iowa and Akron, Ohio, withdrew as possible hosts of the 2011 tournament, Kitchener stepped up to the plate last spring, that is, before the ISC changed its format.
In each of its previous world tournaments, local organizers estimated they raised close to $100,000 and drew about 50,000 fans.
The 2006 and 2007 world tournaments pumped about $7 million into the local economy through spin-off spending, local organizers have said.
Those previous events in Kitchener set the standard for the 71-year old ISC tournament, Matheson said.
“And now, we probably won’t ever see an ISC tournament here again,” he added.
The two-time defending ISC world champion Kitchener Rivershark Twins aren’t prepared to say never, according to team sponsor Jim Hallman.
“It’d be difficult for the ISC not to award the tournament here at a future date based on Kitchener’s record,” he said.
“(The local committee) has taken a responsible approach that’s pretty sound. How soon the ISC forgets that Kitchener stepped in before (in 2007) to help them out,” Hallman added.
The game of fastpitch softball has been under siege for decades, especially at the upper levels where sponsorship dollars have all but vanished.
Another popular ISC tournament destination, Kimberly, Wis., is no longer available to host the event because that city lacks the necessary diamonds for the new tourney format.
Local softball fans suffered another blow recently, when the 2010 World Fastball Invitational in nearby Monkton, Ont., was cancelled due to a lack of available teams.
Last summer, in addition to their latest ISC world title, the senior men’s Kitchener Rivershark Twins claimed their first national crown, while the Kitchener-Waterloo Krush captured the national senior women’s title on home soil.