Putting on a big event can be a costly venture. Serving as host of a recreational league World Series is no exception.
The Columbia County Recreation Department will undertake that venture during the next two weeks. The event, held at Patriots Park, starts Friday with opening ceremonies. Games start Saturday and run through Aug. 4.
For a host county, holding a recreational World Series tournament means being responsible for housing and feeding all team members, coaches and team chaperones. For this event, 10 teams from 10 states will be converging on the area. In addition, one Columbia County team will take part in the tournament.
The 10 visiting teams each have 12 team members, four coaches and four team chaperones. Beda Johnson, executive director of the Columbia County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said that equates to five hotel rooms per team, even though some rooms will be provided free because the teams are reserving so many.
Johnson estimates that the county will pay for three hotel nights per team, though she said the teams that survive the longest in the tournament will stay additional days.
Barry Smith, division director of Community and Leisure Services for Columbia County, estimates the county will pay $11,000 for hotel rooms.
The county normally would be responsible for footing the bill for all of the participants' meals. However, a number of local restaurants have volunteered to provide the meals for free. Those restaurants are Ryan's Steakhouse, Zaxby's, McDonald's, Stevi B's Pizza and Great Wraps, in addition to Wife Saver, which will provide the food for the banquet.
While the county must pay for hotel rooms, Johnson estimates there will be quite a return on the investment, especially considering that anyone other than players, coaches and chaperones will be responsible for their own lodging and meals. She estimates the economic impact for the county will be $396,000.
Johnson said that younger players generally bring a bigger crowd with them than older ones. Considering that the players in this tournament are ages 11 to 13, she thinks more than four people per player will be coming to town.
She calculates that those 54 people multiplied by 10 teams, multiplied by a conservative three-night stay, would come out to be 1,620 room nights. However, that number could be considerably lower if multiple family members stay in one room.
Johnson said the Augusta Convention and Visitors Bureau, as well as the Augusta Sports Council, use $266 per person per day in travel expenditures for their economic impact numbers. Johnson said the Columbia County CVB uses a figure of $150 per person for travel expenditures.
If the estimated 540 non-team members come to town for the event, they would have to spend an average of $733 per person for the entire stay under that formula. Visitors have to buy gasoline and will spend money shopping. Still, that seems a little high.
Game tickets cost $5 each, and that could be factored into recouping the county's money. If 540 spectators attend three games each, that adds up to $8,100.
Siblings are included in the people-per-player figure. They will be eating with their families, but younger ones aren't going to offer nearly as much in economic impact as adults.
Granted, the numbers are crunched using tried-and-true tourism figures, but I find it hard to believe that each non-participant would spend that much money.
Even if the $396,000 estimate is a bit high, the county will see plenty of benefits, economically and otherwise.
"It gives Columbia County Recreation Department some definite credibility," Smith said. "It showcases our parks and gives us regional name recognition.
"It certainly shows we have great quality of life with great parks that other people want to visit."
Judge rules on cheerleading
A federal judge in Connecticut this past week ruled that competitive cheerleading "is not an official sport that schools can use to meet gender-equity requirements," according to an Associated Press report.
U.S. District Judge Stefan Underhill said that the sport is "too underdeveloped." He made no comment on the physical or skillful nature of cheerleading.
Regular readers will remember that my colleague, Donnie Fetter, wrote a column arguing that cheerleading is not a sport. He wins on a technicality, even if he argued that it isn't a sport only because of subjective judging.
I argued that its sheer athleticism makes it a sport. A federal ruling won't change my mind.
Besides, in this case, being "underdeveloped" just means competitive cheerleading hasn't been accepted yet. The judge isn't helping that cause.
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