Tourism officials expect cash infusion from volleyball tournament in Cape
Friday, November 4, 2011
Cape Girardeau businesses will see an estimated $350,000 boost this weekend as volleyball players, coaches and parents come to Cape Girardeau for the state tournament.
This is the first time in decades the Missouri State High School Activities Association has hosted a state championship event in Cape Girardeau, said Chuck Martin, executive director of the Cape Girardeau Convention and Visitors Bureau.
About 300 players, coaches, referees and MSHSAA representatives will spend the weekend here along with an estimated 6,000 fans, including family and friends of the tournament participants. Martin estimates the players will spend about $110 per person on lodging, food and fuel, while spectators are expected to spend $150 per person.
Teams began arriving Thursday, and tournament games will be played at the Show Me Center today and Saturday.
Also, three college soccer teams will be in Cape Girardeau this weekend for the Ohio Valley Conference soccer championship at Southeast Missouri State University's Houck Stadium.
"Rooms are booked from Ste. Genevieve all the way down," Martin said. "There are literally no rooms available in Perryville, Jackson, Cape Girardeau or Sikeston. We have had overflow as far away as Anna, Illinois. It is a big, big weekend."
Sikeston, Mo., is hosting more than 100 teen soccer teams in a regional tournament this weekend, filling all its hotel rooms as well.
"I'm not sure people truly appreciate just how big of an impact amateur sports has in our community," Martin said. "If you take a look at potentially 30 weekends, April through October, you'd be looking at over $10.5 million in direct economic impact. That is money moving out of a billfold and into a person's hands."
The CVB provided each participant, coach and officials with a welcome bag containing a visitors guide, restaurant guide, map and discount coupons for local businesses.
Currently, Cape Girardeau hosts about 15 amateur sports events annually, but it's a market the CVB is hoping to grow in the future.
Brenda Newbern of Midamerica Hotels Corp. worked with MSHSAA officials to book hotel rooms for the teams coming to Cape Girardeau. She said she'd love to have an event like this in Cape Girardeau every weekend.
"Some weekends there's nothing going on in Cape, so for us to have a weekend like this is great. You have all the parents coming in and all of their followers," she said.
The Show Me Center will host the state volleyball tournament each year through 2014. It has been held at Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City the past three years.
"The Show Me Center is a nice venue. It's big enough to host something like this when we have two courts at once," said Jason West, MSHSAA communications director.
Representatives from the Show Me Center, local hotels and the CVB worked together to submit a proposal to MSHSAA to host the volleyball tournament.
"We came together as a community, all the hoteliers, the Show Me Center, the CVB, to let them know this is something we want," said Sandy Nuyt, area sales manager for Drury Hotels. "It helps our restaurants, our shopping and our hotels. It's just a great thing."
She said she hopes this weekend will set a precedent that will help prove Cape Girardeau can handle more events like this in the future.
Factors MSHSAA considered in the site selection for the tournament included more than just the sports venue. It also considered the community, hotel space, hotel availability and entertainment options for players during their downtime, West said.
As of Thursday afternoon, West said MSHSAA was pleased with the reception they've received so far.
"A lot of times when you're trying to sell yourself, you kind of build things up, and then once it happens it may not be as big as the bravado. But so far everything's worked out exactly as what was said and promised," he said.
Admission to the tournament is $7 per session. For more information, visit www.mshsaa.org.
Southeast Missourian sports writer Rachel Crader contributed to this report.
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