SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Thousands of people are in Springfield this week for the annual Blue and Gold and Pink and White High School basketball tournaments.
The four-day tournaments are made up of 64 teams playing 104 games in two different locations.
While many are within driving distance to home, the Springfield Sports Commission says the events will still bring in much-needed tourism dollars from people filling up their tanks and dining out.
“They’re coming into town for four consecutive days. The gas stations and the restaurants have to like that,” Lance Kettering, Executive Director of the Springfield Sports Commission tells OzarksFirst.
He says events like these leave teams and families looking for ways to kill time in between games.
“We’re already sitting and planning, trying to figure out different places we want to go to visit, to eat,” says John Prysock, who came from Searcy, Arkansas to support his granddaughter as she plays in the Pink and White tournament.
“It’s about five miles to our motel, and you would not believe the places we see and say, ‘Well we’d like to go here, we’d like to go there.’ Well, we’re not going to be able to stop at all of them! Or at least as many as l’d like to.”
The Springfield Sports Commission says it’s faired well with events this year despite the ongoing pandemic.
“Our numbers have been very, very strong this year, and 2021 numbers are approaching record numbers as far as room tax revenues, so that means that the tourists and the travel and tourism is booming here in the area,” says Kettering.
Still, the Commission has long said the city needs more space to hold large sporting events. Kettering says a lack of indoor facilities has been an ongoing issue in Springfield.
However, additional space could soon become a reality with, among other projects, the construction of the Betty and Bobby Allison Sportstown, which is currently being build near the Springfield-Branson National Airport.
“It shows that Springfield is a viable community for a new sports complex, or maybe future investors will look to Springfield as an area that desires sports, travel and tourism, so that’s good,” adds Kettering. “It fulfills a need for more turf fields for soccer, and potentially more indoor courts in the future.”
Looking ahead to 2022, the Springfield Sports Commission is hoping for another record year.
Kettering says the biggest time for sports tourism will happen in March, when upwards of 50,000 people will visit Springfield for the National Christian HomeSchool Basketball Tournament, as well as the State High School Basketball Championships.
Folks will also likely notice businesses bustling with visitors in Mid-January, when the Bass Pro Tournament of Champions will be held for the first time since 2020.
Kettering says upwards of 25,000 people could come to Springfield between January 13 and 16.
He says the Bass Pro Tournament of Champions has recently been named the highest attended three-day high school basketball tournament in America.
To see a full list of upcoming sports events in Springfield, click here: https://www.springfieldmosports.org/