Owensboro working to lure sporting events
Owensboro's tourism experts are aiming high with a new downtown events center on the horizon.
The Owensboro-Daviess County Convention & Visitors Bureau sports marketing director, Jared Bratcher, said the western Kentucky city is in the process of luring a batch of tournaments to the area, with more to come once a new center is opened.
Bratcher hopes to sign large cheerleading, dance and tae kwon do tournaments for the new center.
"We're still negotiating with them," Bratcher said. "But they're extremely excited about the new events center and I think they'll sign as soon as ground is broken."
The new events center will replace the Sportscenter, a multipurpose 5,000-seat arena that went through a multimillion dollar renovation in 1997. Ground has yet to be broken on a new events center.
Bratcher said the city might be able to attract a few smaller events from those groups at the Sportscenter before the events center is open.
"But the Sportscenter is an outdated facility," he said. "They want to be in a state-of-the-art center."
But, other events that don't need an indoor venue have made plans to head to Owensboro.
Bratcher said the Baseball Players Association's world series for 8, 9 and 12-year-olds is scheduled for July 21-25 and the National Softball Association's Class E men's world series for Sept. 17-19 in Owensboro.
"We should have at least 50 (teams)," he said. "They'll spend more money in town and have more fun than the professional players."
The bureau's calendar already shows 36 tournaments for 2010 with more to come, he said.
The city is doubling the number of football tournaments from two to four next year, Bratcher said.
The tournaments will bring money into the city's economy, although the projected amount hasn't been determined, Bratcher said. Bowling Green recently announced that the Amateur Softball Association had awarded it six tournaments for 2010 and 2011 that should pump $18 million into that city's economy.
"It'll be way more than that," Bratcher said.
The bureau's executive director said Owensboro is working on creating a regional cycling event for next fall.
"Everybody wants to be Owensboro," said Karen Miller, the bureau's executive director.
Bratcher said the sports industry has not seen the collapse that other parts of the economy have experienced.
"But it's getting so competitive" to land tournaments, he said. "Every city has a new park or they're throwing lots of money around. It's a real competitive atmosphere. But our reputation sometimes lifts us over the money."