(Updated on 9/6/19 with final registration numbers)
After two years of planning and preparation, the Gay Softball World Series is finally here in Kansas City. Registration begins Sept. 1, the championship game will be played Sept. 7, and events will finish up Sept. 8. Thousands of athletes and fans from the United States and Canada will be arriving for a week filled with competitions and parties.
The World Series, which is the official event of the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance (NAGAAA), has already booked over 5,000 local hotel nights, and it’s estimated to have a $10 million economic impact for the city.
The Crown Center’s Westin and Sheraton are the main host hotels, and Harrah’s is also a host hotel, said Scott Switzer, executive director of the 2019 Gay Softball World Series. “They’ve been fantastic,” he said. “I mean, they’ve all been good, then Harrah’s also donated 26,000 bottles of water, which is incredible.”
Switzer said that Visit KC was very helpful in working with Kansas City’s committee on its 2017 bid presentation to host the series and that it paid off.
Switzer, a Kansas City native, has a twin brother and two other brothers. He works in the family painting business and in their staffing business for the construction industry. He spoke proudly about his family and how they’ve accepted him with open arms as a gay man.
“We’re very sports-oriented, and they’ve been very supportive. Beyond supportive,” he said.
Switzer has been on the Kansas City Hitmen team, part of the LGBTQ Kansas City Heart of America Softball League. This is the 11th year that he’s been active with the league, he said.
“We took second last year in the World Series,” he said. “And then just last week, I was elected commissioner to the Heart of American Softball League. It’s a two-year term. My main goal in that is to get the Heart of America softball league back into community stuff, AIDS Walk and other community events.”
Switzer said he is pleased that the beneficiary of the Gay World Series is AIDS Walk Kansas City
This is just the second time Kansas City has hosted the Gay World Series; the other time was in 1999.
Switzer said that the 2020 Gay World Series will be in Columbus, Ohio, and that Dallas and San Francisco are bidding for 2021. The 2018 Series was in Tampa, and, Switzer said, “they broke the record of 195 teams for the largest tournament ever. We’re expecting 217 teams. So we shattered it!” Switzer reported that of the 217 teams, nine were local and that the final registration count was 3,300 softball players.
Games for this year’s Gay Softball World Series will be played at three complexes with 23 fields, Switzer said. They are:
- Fountain Bluff Sports Complex, 2200 E. Old M-210 Highway, Liberty, Mo.
- Mid-America West Sports Complex, 20200 Johnson Drive, Shawnee, Kan.
- Frank White Jr. Sports Complex, 3901 Southwest Longview Rd., Lee's Summit, Mo.
The community is encouraged to go out and watch the games.
Members of the committee that’s been planning and organizing the World Series are: Switzer; Cameron Willcott, compliance director; Doug Reynolds, director at large; Sheila Sheridan, volunteer director; Caine Kreimendahl, operations director; Terri Goddard, sponsorship and events director; Tom Simone, hospitality director; Chad Slater, social media director; Mike Breeding, finance director; Douglas Wright, administration director; and Stefan White, marketing director.
Switzer gives credit to all the people who have been planning the event and recruiting hundreds of volunteers in the local community.
“The committee’s been awesome,” he said. “They’ve all gone above and beyond in two years of volunteer work. It’s been hours and hours of their personal time to make this kick off in a big way. I’m lucky to have all of them. They’ve made me look very good.
“I love Kansas City. I love sports and bringing those two things together, just to bring good sportsmanship into the LGBT community has been incredible.”
The annual “Out With the Royals” baseball game, celebrating the LGBTQ community, will be Sept. 4 (Facebook: Out With the Royals), which is during the week of World Series events. It’s an AIDS Walk fundraiser, and it’s open to anyone in the community.
Scott Switzer, executive director of the 2019 Gay Softball World Series, said that unlike other years, this year they have not scheduled buses to Kauffman Stadium for participants, although one or two of the gay bars might decide to do that for their customers.
Switzer said that in previous years the Royals were supportive, but that it was not on their official schedule of events.
“This is the first year they’ve made that commitment,” he said. “… I’m actually getting honored to throw out the first pitch of the game. Eric Thomas [president of the AIDS Service Foundation] is receiving the on-field check, and the Heartland Men’s Chorus is singing the national anthem. Samantha Ruggles [executive director of the Kansas City Center for Inclusion] is sitting in the Buck O’Neil [Legacy] Seat. So it really is a full-on Pride night.”
Schedule of Events
Sunday, Sept. 1
Noon-7 p.m. – Registration and mingling at Westin Crown Center
4-10 p.m. – Welcome Tea Dance at Bistro 303
Monday, Sept. 2
9 a.m.-3 p.m. – Registration at Westin Crown Center
Noon-4 p.m. – Lobby and Pool Party at Westin Crown Center
4 p.m. – Doors open for Opening Ceremonies at KC Power & Light District
5 p.m. – Opening Ceremonies at KC Power & Light District
4-7 p.m. – Registration at KC Power & Light District
10 p.m. Out on the Town at Host Bars
Tuesday, Sept. 3
7:50 a.m. – Pool Play begins at Fountain Bluff Sports Complex
7:50 a.m. – Pool Play begins at Frank White Jr. Sports Complex
7:50 a.m. – Pool Play begins at Mid-America Sports Complex
6 p.m. – Hall of Fame Dinner at College Basketball Experience
6 p.m. – Team Outing Night/Support Our Sponsor Bars and Restaurants
7 p.m. – LGBTQ+ Casino Night at Harrah’s North Kansas City
Wednesday, Sept. 4
7:50 a.m. – Pool Play at Fountain Bluff
7:50 a.m. – Pool Play at Frank White Jr.
7:50 a.m. – Pool Play at Mid-America
4:30 p.m. – Pride Tailgate Party for the Out With the Royals Game at Kauffman Stadium
7:10 p.m. – Out With the Royals Game begins at Kauffman Stadium (vs. Detroit)
10 p.m. – Sponsor and Host Bar
Thursday, Sept. 5
7:50 a.m. – Pool Play (some divisions) Fountain Bluff
7:50 a.m. – Pool Play (some divisions) Frank White Jr.
7:50 a.m. – Pool Play (some divisions) Mid-America
7:50 a.m. – Tourney Play (some divisions) at Fountain Bluff
7:50 a.m. – Tourney Play (some divisions) at Frank White Jr.
7:50 a.m. – Tourney Play (some divisions) at Mid-America
5-7 p.m. – Sip & Shop at Hall’s Crown Center
7 p.m. – Team Outing Night to support sponsor bars and restaurants
8 p.m. – NAGAAA’s Got Talent Contest at Sidekicks (details to come)
Friday, Sept. 6
7:50 a.m. – Tourney Play at Fountain Bluff
7:50 a.m. – Tourney Play at Frank White Jr.
7:50 a.m. – Tourney Play at Mid-America
3 p.m. – Pronoun Presentation at Westin Crown Center, Liberty Room
6 p.m.-2 a.m. – KC Strips Charity Night, 12th Street Bridge & West Bottoms, $10 cover
Saturday, Sept. 7
7:50 a.m. – Championship Saturday at Frank White Jr.
10 a.m. – U=U Presentation at Westin Crown Center/Liberty Room
Afternoon (time TBD) – Championship Game at Frank White Jr.
5 p.m. – Closing Ceremony at Washington Square Park, cost for non-participants $10
11 p.m. – Bear Night at Hamburger Mary’s
11 p.m. – After Party at Missie B’s
Sunday, Sept. 8
11 a.m. – Bye-Bye Drag Brunch at Hamburger Mary’s