BIG HIT: Tournaments provide tourism boon

Published 3:00 am Saturday, June 16, 2018

The Troy Recreation tournaments have begun, bringing not just fun, but a tourism and economic boost as well.

The district tournaments for the AA, AAA and Ozone Rookie teams began Thursday night, bringing teams from Enterprise, Eufaula, Luverne and Kinston into town to compete for a chance to go the state level.

In all, 12 teams are competing at the Troy Sportsplex during the tournaments, which will wrap up Tuesday.

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In addition to the players and coaches, Troy Recreation Director Dan Smith said plenty of family and community members also come to town to support their teams.

“That is definitely the calling card of these tournaments in that it is very much a community event for all of these cities and communities,” Smith said. “It means a lot to these families – moms, dads, brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles – they all like to come and support their family members, so we do see big crowds for these tournaments.”

Although these teams are close enough to commute, Smith said there is still an economic impact from the influx in travellers coming into the county.

“For a lot of these teams, it’s a little bit of a family vacation of sort,” Smith said. “They get to travel with their families make a day of it, eat out and spend money in Troy in different ways.”

Kathy Sauer, president of the Pike County Chamber of Commerce, said there is potential for long-term impacts of the tourism in addition to the short-term spending.

“It’s an introduction to what we have to offer,” Sauer said. “There is the potential for them to visit and then to continue visiting or to move into the area. There could be an introduction to Troy University for some of the children in the tournament.”

Sauer said the visit can lead to future impact even if a family is simply travelling through Troy in the future.

“They may stop and spend time here in future travels because they had a nice experience in the area, or they may decide to stop and spend the night here,” Sauer said. “It’s a nice introduction to our area.”

There will be an opportunity for an even bigger impact when the Recreation Center hosts three state tournaments in softball in July.

“There will be 26 teams here for that in a couple of weeks,” Smith said. “… most of those will be spending the night in Troy. Those teams will be here for a minimum of two days and some four or five days.”

That means they’ll be spending money at hotels, and Sauer said there’s a multiplying factor that applies when tourists visit.

“If they spend one night here, they increase that spending amount by filling up with gas, going out to eat, they might shop and get souvenirs – that type of thing. You’re looking at an increase in sales tax, an increase for local businesses and an increase in lodging tax. That helps each individual citizen because it increases tax revenue and gives us more profitable businesses.”

Sheila Jackson, director of public relations and tourism, said sporting events bring a lot of tourism opportunities to the city, from Troy University football games to recreation tournaments to events at Camp Butter and Egg.

Sauer said the tournaments can even boost spending among local residents that are participating in the tournaments.

“People that live here might take the opportunity that day to go out with their team member,” Sauer said. “And you’re building spirit because you’re rooting for a team.”

Sauer praised the City of Troy and the Recreation Department for working so ahrd to bring these tournaments to the city each year.

“We want to thank them for taking the initiative and bidding for these tournaments – it’s very difficult and very competitive,” Sauer said. “Our area is very good at having not just first-time tournaments, but having return tournaments, which means people are happy with it.”­