Organizers tout economic impact of USA South tourneys
The Rocky Mount Telegram – Published March 15, 2013
Organizers of next month’s USA South Conference Spring Tournaments want the community to give such a warm welcome to the athletes and their families that tournament officials extend the number of years the event is planned to be held here.
The tournaments will bring more than 850 college athletes and their families into town from April 11 to April 14, and visitors will spend a minimum of $1 million at hotels and local businesses each year for the next two years the event is scheduled here, officials said Friday.
Organizers and officials are urging the public to attend the athletic events.
In a press conference at Rocky Mount High School, event organizers introduced students who will serve as ambassadors, assisting athletes and coaches.
Organizers also gave an update on advertising plans for the event and outlined locations where sporting events will be held.
“We are reaching out to the community,” said N.C. Wesleyan College President James Gray, chairman of the organizing committee for the event. “We want Rocky Mount to really participate, to take ownership of this tournament.”
He said the event, which has been in the planning stages for several years, is now on a 27-day countdown until opening ceremonies.
“We started working on this back in 2010, the city and myself and others, about the dream of trying to bring these spring championships to Rocky Mount from Burlington where they have been for the last seven years,” Gray said.
Rocky Mount Councilman Reuben Blackwell said the event will be a chance for the city to showcase its assets, which can only help in bring more events to this area.
“We are very excited that Rocky Mount will serve as host to this USA South Tournament,” he said. “We are excited because we know that 800 families or students and their families are coming to Rocky Mount to see what we know is one of the best places in North Carolina to be. We are also excited because we recognize that this opens up another opportunity for our region to highlight the wonderful sports talent that we have, and continue to brand us as a sports athletic cultural community that has something for everyone.”
Rocky Mount Recreation Superintendent Kelvin Yarrell gave an update of tournament sites.
“This is a true community event and regional event,” he said. “We’ll be hosting games in Rocky Mount, Wilson and Zebulon. Our partners came together to help us put on this event, and the five sports that we are going to host are going to be a tremendous opportunity for our community to really look at our resume in hosting events.”
Golf tournaments will be held at Benvenue Country Club. Lacrosse and softball games will be held at he Rocky Mount Sports Complex. Tennis matches will be held at N.C. Wesleyan College.
Baseball games will be held at Fleming Stadium in Wilson and Five County Stadium in Zebulon.
Don Williams – president of Lewis Advertising, which is handling advertising for the event – said the campaign will target local residents and conference officials.
“That message we are trying to convey to the local community is that we are going to have over 850 athletes, coaches and parents moving into our market,” he said. “Those people are going to filling our hotels, dining in our restaurants, shopping in our stores, so we need to make sure the Rocky Mount community knows they are coming and knows to make them welcome.”
The advertising campaign geared to conference officials is to make them feel so welcome and pleased with the way the event was handled that they decide to keep the tournament going on here after two years, Williams said.
“The advertising is encouraging our residents, our people, to go out to the games,” Williams said, noting that attendance was poor in Burlington when the games were held there. “We want to put as many people in seats at the various venues and various games as we can for the event.”
Martha Lamm, the county’s former tourism director who has been hired on a contractual basis to help organize the event, said the event is a “tourism dream come true.”
Lamm said the objective of the hospitality industry is to show appreciation toward the athletes, their families and conference officials.
“We’re going to cover Rocky Mount and Nash County with banners,” she said. “The front-line people and staff are going to have T-shirts on in appreciation. We’re going to assist with the ambassador program so that all the young people out here become hospitality professionals.”
2013 Cooke Communications LLC – Rocky Mount Telegram