Thursday, July 18, 2024
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Cookeville Hosts Softball Tournament, Major Tourism Draw

As the Mojo Moneyball Classic Softball Tournament comes to Cookeville this weekend, the impact on the economy could be the homerun.

Tourism Director Shan Stout said sports tourism from big tournaments serve as a economic driver for hotels, restaurants, and local stores. She said the Visitors Bureau will offer each participant a travel guide highlighting dining and shopping opportunities, and outdoor attractions. Stout said the hope is local hospitality encourages many of some 2,000 weekend visitors to return for future vacations.

“The economic impact of the tournament, itself, is fantastic,” Stout said. “But then, we see long-range economic impact with visitors that come back, and also tournament directors who say, ‘we’re going to bring a smaller tournament here,’ they have a good experience, and then they bring a larger tournament and sometimes a national tournament.”

Stout said she talks with cynics frequently who grow frustrated by the extra traffic on the roads and longer lines at their favorite restaurant on weekends like this one. She said those people should remember the significant tax relief brought on by an event like this. Stout said residents save some $580 each year on property tax from tourism alone.

“Being a great southern town, I don’t ever worry about them feeling welcome because everyone does a great job,” Stout said. “But we do appreciate when our businesses kind of roll out the red carpet for them.”

Stout said the city saw a lapse in big events like this while the fields at Cane Creek Park were still getting up to tournament standards. She said the Leisure Services Department provides services like field preparation that many cities do not, making Cookeville an even more attractive spot for these events. She said the addition of the Home2 Hotel makes Cookeville more viable for tournaments of this magnitude as well.

“When you see these athletes, you know, they’re usually dressed up their uniforms and you can spot them a mile away, do make them feel welcome,” Stout said. “Ask them if they need any help or if they found everything okay.”

She said when locals are friendly and even act as navigators, people feel more at home. She said the city will continue to work hard to recruit and retain big athletic events like this one.

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