Belmont County, OH (WTRF)-It’s already that time of year when baseball players go head-to-head in the ‘Beast of the East’ tournament.

54 teams are competing in the 34th tournament. That’s down from 90 teams in 2021 and 140 a couple of years back.

But despite fewer teams, the crowds are still expected to drive business up.

“The Beast of the East Tournament is always a great economic booster to Belmont County and the whole Ohio Valley.”

Jackee Pugh, executive director of Belmont County Tourism

Teams and baseball fans are traveling cross-country to this valley. That’s expected to flood stores, restaurants, and hotels… including the Hampton Inn by the mall in Saint Clairsville.

“We are extremely busy. Pretty much sold out for the entire weekend, which is great.”

Cara O’Donohoe, General Manager of the Hampton Inn

General Manager Cara O’Donohoe says nearly all rooms were booked up at the Hampton Inn for the last tournament. But this time, it’s even more so.

That’s why she’s all staffed up in the housekeeping and breakfast department this week.

“Our breakfast order was extremely a lot this go-around just because we’re getting ready for the amp up of people and kids and the influx.”

Cara O’Donohoe, General Manager of the Hampton Inn

Other businesses in the valley like the Hampton Inn are also getting a rush of traffic from the tournament, and it’s only a matter of time before more businesses get packed.

“Not only does it bring the baseball players, but it brings the people that cheer them on, and they’re all coming and enjoying our restaurants, our hotels, and places they can shop, and things they can do while they’re in Belmont County and the Ohio Valley. So, we’re so excited to welcome them, and have them here.”

Jackee Pugh, executive director of Belmont County Tourism