A college-level softball tournament in McPherson this weekend is expected to bring more than $70,000 in revenue to the area.
Central Christian College of Kansas is hosting the crossover tournament, which began Friday and will continue today at Wall Park.
Ten teams are within Central’s league, the Midlands Collegiate Athletic Conference, which includes schools from Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri, Oklahoma and Arkansas. The tournament was moved in McPherson as a more centralized location.
“It’s a really neat and unique event for the city of McPherson, but economically, it should have a very positive impact,” Chad Kerr, Central’s athletic director and head softball coach, said.
The McPherson Convention and Visitor's Bureau estimated more than 2,200 out-of-town visitors to come for the tournament, which includes about 180 team members, and at least 2,100 family members, fans and friends. All of those visitors must stay at area motels, eat at restaurants and buy gasoline. In addition, director Anne Hassler said the free time between games will mean free time to shop at local grocery stores and businesses.
Including sales tax, Hassler estimated total revenue would reach at least $70,395.
“They’re kind of a captive audience for that weekend they’re here,” she said. “This is money being spent in the community that wouldn’t be spent otherwise. If they’re in the market to shop, it’s a golden opportunity.”
Central and the McPherson CVB have been working since last spring to bring the tournament to McPherson. Grants were given to assist with facility rental, and group discounts were sought for hotel rooms and meals for teams.
Kerr said teams will be watching to see how well things go, and from that determine if McPherson and Central Christian will continue to host the tournament.
“Our conference is watching very closely to see how it goes and how the city handles us,” he said. “I think they want it to be here in a town that one of the schools is from. But if it doesn't go well, they’ll move it to Kansas City or somewhere else.”
The MCAC hosts a softball crossover tournament every year so all teams can play each other. The league is split into a northern and southern division, where each teams within those divisions play each other twice. A crossover tournament brings all league teams together once, which saves time and money.
Games will begin at 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. today. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for children.
Some teams playing, Kerr said, are ranked in the top 25 in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.
Page 2 of 2 - If the tournament goes well, Kerr said the MCAC might consider having Central host similar tournaments for other sports.
“I think it’s good for the town,” Kerr said of the tournament. “I’m putting a lot of effort into it. As a new member of this community, I’ll make sure I’ll do everything I can to keep it going.”
Contact Jenae Pauls at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @PaulsSentinel.