The businessman who pitched the Field of Dreams to adult baseball players is hosting Albany’s first major pickleball tournament.
The Albany Capital Center Classic will take place at the Albany’s convention center on Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, Jan. 13 to Jan. 15, 2023. Slots are filling up.
Scott Green, president of Around the Post Pickleball, said he expects 150 to 200 players to compete. The convention center will set up six to eight courts on wood flooring typically installed for basketball and volleyball.
Green lives in Hampton Bays on Long Island and runs Play at the Plate, a business that organizes adult and father/son baseball tournaments at Major League Parks around the country. Play at the Plate has also has hosted events at the Field of Dreams in Iowa. Before he founded the company, Green was head of baseball operations for the Major League Baseball’s All Star Game Fantasy Camps, where adult baseball players of any skill train at MLB parks for a week.
Green started playing pickleball seven years ago and became an instructor. He helped bring pickleball to Hampton Bays schools and is involved in organizing pickleball training for physical education teachers on Long Island. Green launched Around the Post Pickleball last year.
Albany “has rolled out the red carpet” for his tournament, Green said. Discover Albany gave Green a grant to help cover costs, and Green committed to holding a tournament here for two years.
“We are viewing this as the start of something we can build on,” said Jay Cloutier, director of sales for Discover Albany. “I think Scott’s two-year commitment is just the tip of the iceberg.”
Discover Albany is a not-for-profit organization funded by the occupancy tax collected by hotels in Albany County. The agency promotes tourism and economic development and tries to bring conventions and tournaments to the county.
Cloutier said he had been trying to snag a pickleball event. As Discover Albany’s sports commissioner, Cloutier attends trade shows that connect venues with groups that organize sports competitions.
“At those events, you would have to be deaf not to hear the whispers and furtive conversations about how pickleball seems to be emerging as one of the events that you want to get in on the ground floor of,” he said.
Green has hosted several smaller tournaments on Long Island, but this will be his biggest one yet.
More than 100 players have already registered. The tournament has two age brackets 14 to 49 and 50+, and two skill levels: 3.0 to 3.5 and 4.0 to 4.5.
To help promote the tournament, Green is offering free pickleball clinics for beginners and advanced beginners at the Albany Capital Center on Nov. 20 and 21. A few Nov. 21 slots are still available. go.thryv.com/site/s8gocx8xltf1pkmw/online-scheduling
“There is a movement afoot,” Cloutier said. “We are thrilled with Scott and his engagement and his drive to make year one a wild success.”