|By James Mayse, Messenger-Inquirer,
Owensboro, Ky.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Nov. 26, 2008 - --Sports tourism accounts for more than 50 percent of all hotel stays in Owensboro, the head of the Owensboro-Daviess County Convention and Visitors Bureau said Tuesday.
Visitors bureau Executive Director Karen Miller and Sports Marketing Director Jared Bratcher met with Daviess Fiscal Court members Tuesday to discuss upcoming events but spent most of the time talking about sports tourism. The bureau has already booked most of its sporting events for the coming year.
"We are still bringing sports into this town," Bratcher said.
The visitors bureau has already scheduled 32 sports tournaments for 2009, which fills up 90 percent of the bureau's tournament schedule.
"The hope is we'll be adding more," Miller said later. "But the primary schedule is in place for tournaments that bring in lots of people."
Competition for sporting events has increased among cities, Bratcher said. "We've seen so many more cities going after these events," Bratcher said.
But the agency is well-positioned to attract tournaments, he said. "We're already ahead of the curve," Bratcher said.
Miller said "over 50 percent" of the hotel stays in the city are attributable to sports tourism.
"We would be in trouble without our sports program," Miller said.
Later Tuesday, Miller said 60 percent and 65 percent of all hotel stays in the city over the course of the year are the result of sports tourism.
The closing of the Executive Inn Rivermont hurt the community in terms of lost events, but not as badly as anticipated, Miller said.
"We're only $12,000 down (in room tax revenue) from last year, and that's a direct (result) of what we've done with our sports program," Miller said. "We still lost quit a bit of business, but we're making it up as we go."
Commissioner Jim Lambert asked visitors bureau officials to look at attracting more soccer tournaments and asked if there is an opportunity to attract cheerleading events.
"I don't recall seeing any (cheerleading events) here," Lambert said.
Bratcher said he has met with representatives of Cheer USA Championships and said the organization would consider scheduling events in the city.
"They are very interested in Owensboro because of our reputation," Bratcher said. "They definitely want some regional events in Owensboro."
The construction of a convention and multipurpose arena would help attract cheerleading tournaments, Bratcher said.
"We don't have the facilities to hold the major events at this time," Bratcher said.
After the meeting, Miller said the agency is still looking for ways to attract winter sports tournaments.
"We got a call today from someone excited about the new ice arena," Miller said. "Of course, that's not open yet ... but we're planting the seed."
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Copyright (c) 2008, Messenger-Inquirer, Owensboro, Ky.
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