Dec. 6, 2007
By Kim Corriher | Photo by Michael Dibari
During the holiday season, gifts come in all shapes and sizes, and the Athens community warmly welcomed an unexpected one this past weekend as Ohio University's successful bid to host the first and second rounds of the NCAA Division I Volleyball Tournament resulted in a nearly $300,000 economic boost to the Athens business community.
"This tournament was like a holiday surprise for our local businesses and hotels, and we greatly appreciate the work of the OU athletic department in bringing visitors to Athens this time of year," said Paige Alost, executive director of the Athens County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The Bobcats' opportunity to host was announced late Sunday, Nov. 25, giving the campus and the community just three days to prepare before teams from Purdue University, Xavier University and Cal Poly converged on the Convocation Center.
The four teams competed in single-elimination games on Friday, Nov. 30, and Saturday, Dec. 1, with Friday's first-round attendance of 2,072 marking the second-largest crowd ever to watch a volleyball game at the Convocation Center.
Although Ohio University was eliminated in the first round, the community still sustained a win. Using economic indicators from the state travel and tourism board, the visitors bureau estimates the total tournament economic impact at $283,318. The figure was derived using the county's most recent economic impact report and reflects money spent for lodging, meals, entertainment and shopping.
The visitors bureau also reported that between Thursday and Sunday, a total of 686 hotel rooms in Athens were reserved for teams, administration, family members and fans associated with all four teams.
"These partnerships are extremely important to us, and this event clearly showed the benefits of us all working together," added Alost, who praised the work of Ohio Athletics' marketing and promotions staff to make the event appealing to the entire community.
"The NCAA Regional Volleyball Tournament was a big bonus during a time when most businesses in Athens could really use a boost," added Gloria Hooper, director of sales at the Hampton Inn-Athens, which served as the official host hotel for two of the four teams. "The Ohio University athletic department showed such professionalism in hosting this tournament."
The visitors bureau collected qualitative responses from business owners in Athens, reporting that a number of restaurants hosted the teams or large parties of fans for meals throughout the weekend. Others also reported an extension of their business hours over the weekend.
"The opportunity to host the first and second rounds of the NCAA Division 1 Women's Volleyball Championship allowed Ohio Athletics to showcase our great university while also having a positive impact on the Athens community," said Director of Athletics Kirby Hocutt. "We will pursue future opportunities to provide our student-athletes with a home-court advantage while exposing others to Athens County."
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