Area sees economic impact from sports tourneys

Events can have long lasting impacts on economy

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Elizabeth City State's Alyssa Griffin and the Lady Vikings hosted the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association softball roundup at South Park Sports Complex in Elizabeth City in March.


By Craig Moyer
Sports Writer

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Currituck and Pasquotank counties are seeing the economic benefits of local sporting events since the opening of South Park Sports Complex in Elizabeth City and Currituck Community Park in Barco.

As the facilities host tournaments with several teams competing, the teams and the families who support them are spending their money at local businesses, hotels and restaurants.

Christina Rehklau, Director of Elizabeth City Area Convention and Visitors Bureau said the tournaments can have long-lasting positive impacts on the area. She said the tournaments have more than just an economic impact, as people will return home and tell families and friends about their stay in the city.

“It gives people a chance to come into the community that maybe have not been here in a while,” Rehklau said.

South Park sports complex opened in 2011 and has hosted many tournaments over the last several years, including a tournament hosted by Elizabeth City State University in March.

The ECSU softball team hosted a three-day Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association tournament at the facility. Rehklau said the tournament brought in nine teams and resulted in more hotel stays during the weekend.

“That happened on an off-season weekend, which is great,” Rehklau said.

She noted that the tournaments are a great way to bring people into the area during the spring and fall, as area hotels see a decrease in stays during the non-summer months.

Rehklau said having tournaments at South Park gives people the opportunity to see how Elizabeth City has changed and everything the area has to offer.

In Currituck, the sports complex at Currituck Community Park draws athletes and their families to the area and benefits businesses across the county. Currituck County Parks and Recreation Director Jason Weeks said the increase in traffic through the county helps restaurants, gas stations and many other businesses.

Weeks noted one aspect Currituck is missing, at least in the area of the sports complex, is lodging, as many of the teams and families end up staying in Elizabeth City or Chesapeake. He said in the coming years the county plans to its sports facilities and will also look to add hotels and restaurants nearby.

Pasquotank and Currituck counties are prepared to work together to host a larger tournament between their two facilities. Weeks said joining together gives the area eight fields and increases their opportunities to host tournaments.

“Larger events equal more money for everyone,” Weeks said.

He added that while the sports facility at Currituck Community Park was built to bring in money to the community, that money all goes back to the community, while Parks and Recreation uses rental fees to cover their operating costs.

Weeks noted that youth sports are great for the economy, as the players come to the area with their parents, grandparents and siblings and spend money in a variety of areas.

The facility in Barco is scheduled to host 27 tournaments this year between youth and adult leagues for baseball and softball.

While the park also has soccer fields, Weeks said he hasn’t been as successful drawing soccer tournaments for travel leagues, but is still working to bring them in.

He noted that interest in soccer and lacrosse leagues in the area is beginning to increase, which could bring more games to the park.