Friday, November 20, 2009

Prospect of new downtown event center drawing interest

Once Owensboro breaks ground on a new downtown events center, the Owensboro-Daviess County Convention & Visitors Bureau expects to be able to sign large cheerleading, dance and tae kwon do tournaments.

"We're still negotiating with them," Jared Bratcher, the bureau's sports marketing director, told Tuesday's board meeting at the Visitor Information Center. "But they're extremely excited about the new events center and I think they'll sign as soon as ground is broken."
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"But the Sportscenter is an outdated facility," he said.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."
Bratcher said Owensboro has landed the Baseball Players Association's world series for 8, 9 and 12 year olds for July 21-25 and the National Softball Association's Class E men's world series for Sept. 17-19.

"Class E is the lowest (skill) level," Bratcher said. "But it brings in the most teams. We should have at least 50. 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.
Bowling Green announced this week that the Amateur Softball Association had awarded it six tournaments for 2010 and 2011 that should pump $18 million into that city's economy.
Bratcher said he's still working on the economic impact for the 2010 tournaments here.
"But it'll be way more than that," he said.

Bratcher told the board that 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."

"Everybody wants to be Owensboro," said Karen Miller, the bureau's executive director.
She said the bureau is working on creating a regional cycling event for next fall.
"We have to put our best foot forward when these teams are in town," said Brian Smith, co-owner of Diamond Lake Resort and treasurer of the board. "We can't rest on our laurels. We have to keep fighting."

Bratcher said he's working to attract hockey tournaments to the city's new ice center.
"We can't get the really big tournaments because we only have one" playing surface, he said. Louisville, Lexington and Evansville have two.

"But I believe we'll get the state hockey tournament in a few years," Bratcher said.
He's also working to get a sport stacking tournament in town. Sport stacking involves stacking plastic cups in as little time as possible.

Keith Lawrence, 691-7301,