MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – A youth sports attraction generating an estimated $36 million a year in the area is cleaning up after a fire destroyed most of its main business office.
If you looked around The Ripken Experience Myrtle Beach on Monday, it seemed like a typical day of baseball in the summer heat. That is until you see the administrative office, where a lot of planning happens for tens of thousands of baseball players.
Some come to the Grand Strand from as far away as Australia.
“We do about 1,100 travel baseball teams, between summer, college and high school spring teams, and then weekend amateur teams here,” said Bobby Holland, senior general manager of The Ripken Experience Myrtle Beach.
Holland says a lightning strike likely destroyed many important business records and priceless memorabilia of his family’s love for baseball. A large hole is in the roof of the building, which is about a block away from the baseball fields and complex.
The fire destroyed computers, business documents and things you can’t really replace.
“Everything’s basically either covered in soot, burned or water damaged,” Holland said. “Happy Father’s Day cards, baby pictures, it’s just a mess.”
Some mementos from Holland and his children’s baseball careers were also damaged or destroyed.
“That was my team picture from 1997,” Holland said, pointing to his Old Dominion University baseball team photo. “That was the only thing that survived this wall.”
The fire happened between tournaments, so no one was at the facility.
Holland says even as he rebuilds and mourns what he lost, his love of baseball is still there, as he helps about 2,000 players from 17 states play this week’s Big Kahuna Tournament as scheduled.
“It’s kind of sad to see some of those personal items lost forever, but it made me realize that no matter what’s going on behind the scenes, our job as a staff is to give these people the experience of a lifetime,” said Holland.
Holland also says he hopes the building could still be saved to rebuild the office. It would likely need a complete renovation.
He’s also expecting to see a report from fire investigators Tuesday to learn what officially caused the fire and how much the damage costs.