Thursday, March 23, 2023
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Cookeville-Putnam Visitors Bureau Sees Success With Free Lodging For Sports Tournament Officials

The Cookeville-Putnam County Visitors Bureau recruited 10 additional sporting events last year since providing free lodging to referees and tournament directors.

Tourism Director Shan Stout said the bureau noticed that it was losing tournaments to other cities. Stout said after reaching out to tournament directors, hotel compensation was a big draw that Cookeville was not providing.

“So, we solved that problem,” Stout said. “We negotiated our budget and allowed funding for these rooms. It just made a tremendous impact overnight. All at once, we had directors who had done tournaments a decade ago bring their tournaments back.”

Stout said new tournaments have also been scheduled as a result. Stout said the bureau saw so much success that it is adding $6,000 for hotel payments in this year’s budget.

“Our hospitality partners are sometimes completely booked at 100 percent capacity, because we are bringing so many athletes to town all at one time,” Stout said. “Sometimes we have multiple tournaments happening. We spread them out as much as possible, but sometimes we are maxed out across the county but that’s what we like to see.”

Stout said the money budgeted comes through occupancy tax from Putnam County. Stout said the increased sports tourism has already paid for itself with noticeable sales tax and lodging tax leaps on the weekends the tournaments happen.

The compensation depends on the size of the tournament. For example, Stout said if you bring 30 teams, you get four rooms. For a 40 team event, officials receive six rooms. Stout said soccer, softball and kayak fishing are a few of the events gained through the efforts.