A local tourism official said Spartanburg and Greenville Counties could benefit from two youth sports events being held in Spartanburg this weekend.
USA Track & Field will have its Junior Olympic Region Four Championship at Spartanburg High School. The event, which runs Thursday through Sunday, will feature 3,000 athletes.
Tyger River Park in Reidville will host the Hot Time Showcase Classic softball tournament Wednesday through Sunday. The event will feature 45 teams from eight states and more than 600 players.
Both events are expected to attract at least 7,600 visitors, including athletes and spectators, to the county. That could mean big bucks for local hotels, restaurants, retail shops, movie theaters and other businesses.
Chris Jennings, executive director of the Spartanburg Convention and Visitors Bureau, said he believes the events have the potential to eclipse the $10.6 million impact from the National Softball Association and Amateur Softball Association tournaments the county hosted last summer.
“This is another Upstate win,” Jennings said. “(In Spartanburg) our hotels are full, which means we have visitors spilling over into Greenville County.”
The NFL Carolina Panthers training camp will be held at Wofford College July 28 through Aug. 16. Local officials said the camp could surpass last year’s record of more than 77,000 visitors.
All three events could propel Spartanburg’s sports tourism market to new heights.
“We could be seen as a real contender,” Jennings said. “This will help solidify our sports tourism reputation.”
Jennings credited his staff for landing the softball tournament and track and field competition to fill the void left by the NSA and ASA tournaments being held this year in Rochester, N.Y., and Bloomington, Ind., respectively.
He said the CVB is working on bids for the NSA World Series in July 2017 and the ASA tournament in July 2018.
According to numbers provided by the CVB, Hot Time Showcase Classic participants will stay at 11 hotels in Spartanburg and 11 hotels in Greenville.
USA Track & Field participants will use 12 hotels in Spartanburg and 18 in Greenville.
“The South Carolina Association is excited to present this year’s Region Four Championship with the city of Spartanburg,” said Thaddeus Sligh, USATF South Carolina state president and USATF Region Four director, in a statement. “This is a wonderful relationship that we expect to yield state, regional, and even national championships.”