- Special Sections
- Public Notices
By MARTY FINLEY
ELIZABETHTOWN — The weekend rolled in with the snap of a bat and the splash of waves as Elizabethtown was host to both the Cal Ripken Ohio Valley Regional Tournament at Sonny Chaput Field and the Kentucky Long Course State A Championship meet at E-town Swim and Fitness.
The surge of young athletes in the city created a buzz around Elizabethtown, as businesses were swarmed by new faces who were looking for food, lodging and fun.
Sherry Murphy, executive director of the Elizabethtown Tourism and Convention Bureau, said revenue for businesses was estimated to be $58,000 from the baseball tournament and $81,000 from the swim meet, in addition to the $27,000 in estimated revenue from the recent E-town Throwdown wakeboarding tournament. Murphy said businesses also are anticipated to bring in $54,000 during the National Wakeboard League Championship in August.
The estimates are determined from research conducted by the Kentucky Department of Tourism through the Travel Industry Association.
According to the research, the average amount of money spent by overnight visitors in the region is $90 per person. The bureau multiplied this by the number of attendees to reach its estimates.
Murphy said it is a low estimate because the tally for youth events like the swim meet and baseball tournament do not account for extended family members who may be attending, only the athletes and their parents.
While the exact dollar amount may not be known, businesses around Elizabethtown felt the effects, especially hotels and restaurants.
Scott McGowan, general manager at Rafferty’s, said the restaurant saw a rush throughout the weekend as athletes from the swim meet filtered in and out. Saturday was an especially productive day as four baseball teams were served, in addition to swim teams, McGowan said.
Mark Pool, restaurant manager at Shoney’s, said it also saw an increase in business throughout the weekend, specifically Friday and Saturday night.
“We’re glad to see it,” he said.
Pool said a group of baseball players, coaches and supporters, numbering about 40, came in at one point during the weekend.
Other restaurants, such as Cracker Barrel and Texas Outlaw, saw a steady stream of customers amidst the events.
Dr. Chris Godfrey, director for the Kentucky Long Course State A Championship, said 500 swimmers and more than 30 teams participated in the four-day event. Bags from restaurants throughout the city were sported and many visitors trekked to the mall for some shopping, he said. Godfrey said some also asked him where they could buy sporting goods in Elizabethtown.
Elsewhere, 10 baseball teams in the 12-year-old division of Cal Ripken Baseball descended on Elizabethtown from the Ohio Valley Region — which consists of Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia and Wisconsin — for five days of play.
Hotels also fared well with the influx for the events.
Chris Wilson, front desk manager for Best Western, said the hotel’s 120 rooms were full Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with 70 to 80 rooms occupied by baseball and swim teams.
Annette Wilson, general manager of Comfort Inn, said it also had full occupancy Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
“It went over very well,” she said.
Wilson said she had no complaints about the events, adding that the children were well behaved and exhibited a genuine interest in Elizabethtown.
Some families liked the city so much that they decided to stay Sunday night and head back home Monday, Wilson said.
Wilson, who also is president of the hotel/motel association in Elizabethtown, said she had been in contact with the other hotels and considered it a success for everyone.
The tourism bureau sends out a bid to all 21 hotel properties in the city for the events. Once the bids are collected, they are sent to event organizers. Comfort Inn, Best Western and La Quinta Inn were the three chosen. The bureau is not a part of the decision making, but leaves that entirely to organizers.
“We’re here to assist to make things easier,” Murphy said.
She said it was a busy weekend for the entire city, and she was encouraged by the turnout.
“It’s nice to see these kind of economic stimulus events going on in such an iffy economy right now.”
Marty Finley can be reached at (270) 505-1762.