SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – The Tournament of Champions hasn’t ended yet, but it may already have a new champion off the court: Springfield’s economy.
Local dry cleaners feel the impact, as well as restaurants like First Watch. Dejwan Oldham says his staff always looks forward to this time of year.
“You got Christmas and then following right after that usually we die in January, and then you got the Tournament of Champions and so that brings the business right back,” Oldham said. “So it’s a good time for it really. It gets pretty wild. It gets pretty busy. Restaurant full, completely full, people waiting outside the door waiting to get in. It’s a pretty busy restaurant.”
To prepare for the tournament crowds, Oldham says First Watch brings in extra servers and cooks.
“I just tell them it’s going to be a busy weekend,” Oldham said. “I always tell them to ‘eat your Wheaties, be prepared, it’s going to be a busy weekend, so we can do it.’ It’s good money. A lot of tourists. I see a lot of people coming in from out of state and stuff. It’s cool. A lot of locals too, but mostly tourists.”
Usually, a mix of players and fans come in and eat during the event.
Lloyds Dry Cleaners off South Golden will be busy all weekend cleaning team uniforms – for free. Normally the business is closed on Saturdays, but it will be open this weekend to help out with the tournament. Owner Todd Edwards says Lloyds has been doing this for six years.
“We’re pretty busy right now you know and within the realms of handling these uniforms, it’s pretty basic but it does take time,” Edwards said. “We want to make sure the kids have everything that they need when they’re out there on the floor and the coaches look good. We also want to eliminate one of those small things that they have to worry about that we can take care of.”
Edwards says most hotels in town only have a couple of washing machines. Lloyds handles the jerseys with a lot of special care, especially during COVID-19.
“We’ll spend hours,” Edwards said. “We’re underneath a strict timeline because it is a back-to-back-to-back day on games. We’re on a strict timeline that will take several hours. But, we feel pretty efficient of being able to handle this over the last six years that we provide a good service.”
Edwards says this cleaning system was developed through Springfield Public Schools as a way of showing the city’s hospitality.