(Photo by Tim Jaynes, Staff )
SIKESTON - When Sikeston hosts a state athletic tournament, it's a chance not only to show off local sports teams, but the community as well.
"It's part of creating a good impression of our communities - both Sikeston and Miner," said Missy Marshall, executive director of the Sikeston Area Chamber of Commerce. "It speaks well of our community and the people who are working in those leagues who recruit these tournaments and volunteer their time, and it also speaks well of our Parks and Recreation Department - we have great ball fields to host these things."
One such event is occurring right now - the Missouri State 14-year-old baseball tournament. The eight team double elimination tournament began Thursday and will continue through Sunday, with teams representing Aurora, Boonville, North Scott County, Dexter, Mineral Area, Lebanon, Mississippi County and Sikeston.
To host the state tournament, the league simply must ask permission from the state commissioner, explained Gary Pewitt, tournament director. And with tournaments for kids ages 9 through 15, it's not too hard to be granted permission. "There's a lot around the state," he said.
Last year, Sikeston hosted the 13-year-old baseball tournament, so a lot of the same kids and families are back this year, Pewitt said. "And I got nothing but good comments (about last year's tournament)," he added. "I think we've got a good community here."
And the well-kept facilities don't hurt. "People are pretty impressed with the facilities we have in Sikeston," Pewitt noted.
The 105 players from out of town stay with host families during the tournament, Pewitt said. However, their families tend to attend the tournament as well - from immediate family to aunts and uncles and grandparents, he added.
"There's a lot of people coming in for these events," Marshall agreed. "Depending on the size of the family and who comes, there could be an additional two, five, six or more people."
Obviously, not all of the families use the hotels, Pewitt said. But, there is still a lot of money spend during four-day tournament. Visitors buy gasoline and food, stay in hotels and also do shopping, even if it's just for small items.
"You always forget something," Marshall said.
And those immediate needs aren't all people are spending their money on.
"Some are going to go in the movies in their off time or they may go bowling," Marshall added. "You have to think about all the incidentals that trickle through."
To help visitors know about dining and entertainment opportunities, the tournament staff are handing out visitor information guides, provided by the SACC, Pewitt said.
And the money spent rolls over in the community, Marshall said, pointing out that many forget that. "For every dollar they spend, that dollar rolls over and over and over in our community - salaries, utilities, taxes," she said.
Several restaurants have requested to be notified when events that bring extra visitors into town are scheduled so they can be fully staffed, Marshall noted.
"They'll have normal business, then it's like 'Oh my gosh, here comes a team!'," she said. "So whether its baseball, swim team or soccer team, we try to notify the restaurants."
Burger King is one restaurant that likes to know what is going on. "We keep up with what's going on in town," said Lois Pruitt, manager. "Rodeo and golf tournaments all bring in extra business."
As of Thursday afternoon, Pruitt hadn't seen a lot of extra business as a result of the baseball tournament yet. "Usually it's more towards the weekend," she said.
However, Burger King does have a larger crew on their shifts, just in case.
The softball tournament is also an appreciated opportunity for local hotels, Marshall said.
"The hotels in Sikeston and Miner are typically busy in the summer, but its great to have a tournament like this going on right now in the middle of the week," she said. "It gives them a boost."
Mike Stanley, guest service supervisor at Drury Hotel, agreed. "We're just about filled up because of the baseball tournament," he said.
Out of the 80 rooms, only about 10 were vacant for Thursday night. Rooms were also filling up at the Pear Tree Inn, which is also owned by Drury.
On a local basis, the hotel doesn't do anything to publicize themselves for such events, Stanley said. "But the corporate office does call around to the teams and try to set up group rates and stuff," he said.
And the Sikeston Factory Outlet Stores also expect to receive extra business this weekend. "Anytime there's any of the different sporting events in town, extra people are in town and spending money," said Manager Lisa Neumeyer. "We love them."
The stores definitely notice a difference, she said. However, they are already well staffed because of other travelers and back-to-school shoppers, so they typically don't have any additional preparations.