By Sean Rice
After four years in Celina, the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) is moving its annual baseball championship to another community.
NCCAA officials in mid-November chose Chattanooga, Tenn., as the host community for 2005 and 2006, after never receiving an application from Celina.
Now, the $5,600 balance accumulated locally for the three-day tournament held in May will be sent to the Celina parks department, as agreed.
"You think of the hotels, restaurants and so forth that benefit from this," former Celina Mayor Paul Arnold said. "It was just a good thing all around for Celina."
Arnold and his then-appointed administrative director Dave Schmidt are responsible for attracting the tournament, which is estimated to have pumped thousands of dollars into the local economy. Celina City Council was not involved in applying for the tournament for the first four years. Administration and parks department officials handled all aspects of the event.
In November, city council for the first time passed a resolution in support of the tournament and applying to host it again next year. Mayor Sharon LaRue said she mailed the application packet the very next day to NCCAA headquarters in South Carolina, but it never arrived.
"What has happened? I don't know ... but the buck stops here," LaRue said this morning.
Dan Wood, executive director of NCCAA, told The Daily Standard in an e-mail that Chattanooga, Tenn., has amenities that Celina cannot compete with and a better weather forecast.
"Celina was an excellent location and any community will be challenged to exceed the 'red carpet' treatment given to our teams, student athletes, coaches and fans," Wood said. "We have thoroughly enjoyed the relationship started by former Mayor Paul Arnold, former city employee Dave Schmidt and the large group of volunteers that assisted with the 2000-2004 events.
"There should not be any fault or blame assigned to Celina or those within the committee for the event moving for the next two years," Wood continued.
Arnold said the remaining $5,600 balance to host the tournament is in an account that is accessible by himself and the NCCAA. He requested Parks Director Jeff Fortkamp choose a specific project or purchase to expend the money.
If the balance gets lumped into the city general fund, where all parks money originates, the department may never see it, Arnold said.
"I am sorry (NCCAA) is not coming back, and we do have a chance of bringing it back here later on," LaRue said.