The estimated economic impact in Columbus from the state’s largest soccer tournament being held here last weekend is estimated at more than $2 million, according to Nancy Carpenter, executive director of the Columbus-Lowndes Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The Presidents Cup Soccer Tournament drew around 120 teams from around Mississippi. Matches were held at the Columbus Soccer Complex, the Joe Cook Elementary soccer fields and the Columbus High School fields. Carpenter said more than 6,000 people — from the Gulf Coast to Desoto County — attended the matches.
Every hotel room in the Golden Triangle was booked, according to Carpenter. Area hotels and restaurants got compliments, Carpenter added, saying that local staffs went above and beyond to make the teams feel welcome.
One of her favorite parts of the weekend was to see a team of special needs children playing soccer. The Starkville Soccer Association partnered with the Mississippi Starkville Association and the CCVB put together a match. The children were each paired with a buddy who played with them. At the end of the game, the parents formed a tunnel for the team players to run through. Carpenter said it brought tears to her eyes.
“It was honestly one of the most emotional events of the weekend, seeing those precious children scoring goals,” she said. “You could just see the pride on the faces of all the parents that their children were involved in an activity that they didn’t normally get to participate in.”
In addition to the Presidents Cup, Columbus hosted the SLW Tournament, a bass fishing tournament, another event that brought activity to the Golden Triangle economy, Carpenter said. Around 300 fishermen brought 147 boats to the event. That tournament has had more of an impact than from just this weekend, Carpenter had, because fisherman have been bringing their boats to the Golden Triangle for weeks to try and identify where fish were.
The full economic impact of this weekend will not be known until next month, Carpenter said, but it has easily brought in millions of dollars for the entire area.
“It’s been a huge, huge weekend,” she said.
The City of Columbus, the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Department, Columbus Fire & Rescue, the Columbus Police Department and the Columbus Lowndes Recreation Authority all partnered with the CCVB to make the weekend possible, Carpenter said. She also credited the Columbus Municipal School District for helping to organize the games on the Cook soccer field and Columbus High School soccer fields.
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