Summit League Tournament Impacting Economy

Saturday, March 8th 2008, 10:36 pm
By: News On 6

The Summit League Tournament is underway.  City leaders are hoping for a slam dunk at the cash register.  The News On 6's Dan Bewley reports organizers say it has been a big boost to the economy.

With 20,000 people expected to flock to the UMAC over the next four days there's hope for a big payout before the tourney heads north for two years.

"I think the city of Tulsa ought to be proud over what they've done here the last four years," said Ed Grom, Summit League Associate Commissioner.

The city has hosted ORU's league tournament the last four years. The Tulsa Sports Commission estimates the four day tourney brings in between $1.5 and $2 million every year.

"You have people coming from the Chicago, Detroit, Kansas City area's and they stay in hotels and rent cars and frequent the restaurants, so it's very good for the economy," said Mike Dodson, Tulsa Sports Commission.

The Fox and Hound is one of those restaurants. It's less than a mile from the arena; managers there have put out the welcome mat, trying to grab that tourist dollar.

"Anytime we have an event where people fill up the hotels this side of town it's a boon for our business, we really enjoy it," said Brad Ernest, Fox and Hound Pub and Grill.

One of the biggest winners is the Union school district. Besides getting a rental fee for use of the UMAC, the district expects to make more than $10,000 from hot dogs, popcorn and soda pop.

"It is a great thing. It is a great thing for this building because it's a revenue producer for the district and there aren't that many opportunities for a school to produce revenue," said Sarah McBryde, UMAC Marketing Director.

But the cloud on the horizon comes from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, home of the tournament for the next two years. Conference officials say athletic directors and school presidents like to rotate the host city, so one team doesn't always have the home court advantage.

Organizers say Tulsa should hold its head high and remember the city has brought in upwards of $8 million during its four year run.

The Tulsa Sports Commission says it plans to bid to host the tournament again in 2011.

The tournament wraps up on Tuesday night with the men's championship game.