The streets to Las Palmas park in National City are about to get some heavy traffic.
The first annual Little League Urban Initiative Southern California Jamboree in San Diego County will take place in National City from April 26 through April 28. The event is expected to return next year, according to Demiko Ervin, director of the Urban Initiative.
Ervin has seen the annual program gradually grow with both popularity and involvement. Since the inception of the
Urban Initiative approximately 50,000 kids have participated in the program with nearly 40,000 teams, according to the Urban Initiative Little League website.
“It’s so crazy. We did one annual event for six years and then the first year we did the state jamborees we did four of them in Texas, Illinois, Georgia and in New Jersey,” he said. “We had some really good success with those events and it seemed to be more effective.”
National City mayor Ron Morrison said he expects the event to be a success in National City.
“I think it’s a great opportunity to bring people from all over the area and it deliberately brings them in an urban environment,” said Morrison. “It’s going to be a huge source of pride, not only for National City but for our entire region. We’re kind of the dead end part of the world down here ... they always consider San Francisco, Sacramento and San Jose before they do us.”
On the San Diego end, Morrison and the San Diego Padres have been involved in bringing the event to National City.
Some of the contributions from the San Diego Padres include game tickets to the Padres game against the San Francisco Giants on the 27th and uniforms for the little league teams of the tournament.
“The Padres are donating tickets for us to bring all of the teams out to their games,” said Ervin. “In the MLB cities, we have a lot of really good support from MLB teams and San Diego won’t be any different.”
The tournament will host 12 teams, including five from the San Diego area.
“The Padres are furnishing all the uniforms for all these kids and they’re all Padres uniforms in all their different phases,” said Morrison. “This has been such a huge amount of pride. If we go into the playoffs we may go up against teams from other parts of the county that have professional trainers for their little league players! We’re just lucky to get the uniforms on the kids and that we can just even provide a little league at all.”
The event is held on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Pool play games are played on all three days with the elimination rounds starting on Sunday. The final will be held on Sunday at 5 p.m.
According to Ervin, some of the guests to appear at the Jamboree include the Padres mascot, National City Mayor Ron Morrison and Padres Hall of Famer David Winfield.
Morrison said he’ll stop by despite all the events he’s hosting in National City that weekend.
“It’s going to be a monstrously busy weekend for us. We got three major events going on in the city all on that same weekend,” he said. “I’ll be changing clothes faster than some of the woman at the Oscars.”
Ervin hopes to bring the event back to San Diego next year.
“It’s important to the set of kids that we’re reaching,” said Ervin. “For a lot of these kids, they’ve never left their hometown; they’ve never played baseball outside of their home park. This might even be their first time staying at a hotel. That’s the really neat thing and for some it might be their first time going to an MLB game. We’re making a lot of things happen for some of these kids.”
The San Diego Padres could not be reached for comment.