Tigers Spring Fling stay comes with
heavy price tag
By Chris Silcox
Pigeon Forge High School Principal Perry Schrandt said when the BlueCross Spring Fling moved to Murfreesboro this year, it helped offset some of the costs for East Tennessee schools, but playing for a state championship remains an expensive venture.
The Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association opted to move the annual event from its previous location in Memphis to a more central location after last year’s Spring Fling. The TSSAA considered several different locations for the event, but eventually settled on Murfreesboro, which also serves as the home for the basketball state tournament.
Schrandt said the price tag for the Tigers baseball team to play for a state championship is more than most would figure, and the school will depend on the community to help cover the bill.
The Pigeon Forge baseball team stayed the maximum number of days a year ago in Memphis, advancing to the state title game. Schrandt said the Tigers succeeding on such a big stage is something everyone in the community should take pride in.
The success, however, doesn’t come cheap.
“(Moving the Spring Fling from Memphis to Murfreesboro) helps everybody from East Tennessee,” Schrandt said. “Not only do we no longer have to make that long trip to Memphis, but it’s good to change it up sometimes. You don’t want it to be in the same location every year.
“And with the cost of transportation now, it also helps save money.”
Schrandt also said despite the high gas prices, Pigeon Forge fans are still flocking to see the Tigers play.
“There are a bunch (of fans) down there now,” Schrandt said in a telephone interview Wednesday morning. “There are a bunch going today, and if we make it to the championship game, there will be a bunch more (to) make the trip then.”
The Tigers departed for Murfreesboro Monday morning on a bus. The team is staying in a hotel while in Murfreesboro. Schrandt said the cost of transportation, lodging, food and laundry is paid for by the school. He said he’s not certain of the final price tag of the trip.
“I have no idea,” he said. “I do know we’re not going to be able to do it without some financial help from the community.
“If we’re playing in a championship game Friday, which we expect to do, it’s going to be really expensive.”
No matter the cost, Schrandt said the reward of having a team representing the area in the state tournament is well worth it.
“It’s great to have a team from our county in the state tournament, especially Pigeon Forge,” Schrandt said. “We’re the only team from our county that’s still playing, and we take a lot of pride in that.”
The Pigeon Forge baseball team defeated Lexington 5-2 in the first round of the tournament on Tuesday. The Tigers advanced in the winner’s bracket for a Wednesday match-up with Covington. The team will not return home until they either receive the state championship trophy or lose two games.