The Big 12 wrestling tournament returns to downtown Tulsa this weekend, an event Tulsa Tourism said will be a much-needed economic boost for the city amid the pandemic.
"It's interesting, a year ago this week everything kind of started to melt down, so this was the last full event that we hosted with 100 percent capacity," Tulsa Regional Tourism President Ray Hoyt said.
Hoyt said even with the BOK Center at 25 percent capacity, that's still 3,750 people. He said seats are selling fast, with only around 530 still available as of Wednesday.
Hoyt said that's a good sign for the amount of money going into the Tulsa economy.
"Right now, the economic impact of the event is estimated about $2 million, that includes $64,000 in local taxes generated," Hoyt said.
With more people in town, visitors will be eating at downtown restaurants and staying in downtown hotels.
Pete Patel with Promise Hotel group, which manages and runs 10 hotels in the Tulsa region, said this tournament is a sign that things might be normal again soon.
"This is the first event to kind of kick off hopefully the end of COVID and starting to get people to gatherings again," Patel said.
Patel said the hotel industry has struggled greatly this past year. He in during a normal weekend during the pandemic, the Hampton Inn downtown might be operating at 30 percent, but for this weekend they are almost full.
"There's a lot of impact, tax dollars coming in, a lot of people coming to see Tulsa," Patel said.
The BOK Center will require masks and have guidelines in place such as physical distancing as well as disinfecting the arena between wrestling sessions.