The numbers add up.
Take 48 teams with maybe a dozen players per team, add in parents, other family and friends and you’re talking about a lot of people spending money on food, lodging, gasoline and other purchases.
Robert Hillman, director of sales at the Dothan Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the Alabama High School Athletic Association South Regional basketball tournament at the Dothan Civic Center will have an estimated $500,000 impact on the city.
The tournament began Tuesday and will end Saturday. It was held the last three years at The Mitchell Center in Mobile, home base for the University of South Alabama basketball team.
Tony Stallworth, associate executive director of the AHSAA, said the contract expired and the center “simply chose not to have it.”
That opened the door for Dothan, which actively recruited the event.
“They’re overwhelmingly inviting and made it so comfortable for us, especially the times we came down for the organizational meetings,” Stallworth said.
While the Dothan facility has about a third the seating capacity of the 10,041-seat arena in Mobile, “welcoming and the hospitality outweighs that,” Stallworth said.
“Since we’ve been here, we have been more than delighted,” he said. “We’ve had several compliments from member school coaches and administrators of how the closeness is bringing everybody together.”
Dothan Leisure Services Director Elston Jones said the city actively pursues events if it can accommodate them.
“Typically any tournament that we can host and have the facilities, we will go after because we realize it is good for the city of Dothan and an impact to the community,” Jones said.
The CVB provided $50,000 of the $93,950 cost of a new basketball court at the civic center, replacing the original floor used since 1974.
“By us having that floor, it’s going to be a huge draw for other tournaments,” Hillman said.
Under the agreement, Dothan will host the tournament for six years as long as no serious issues arise. Hillman said because so many students are involved, law enforcement, emergency management and other concerns were high on AHSAA’s list.
It didn’t hurt that the civic center is across the street from Dothan’s police station and people from every department attended the city’s initial gathering with AHSAA officials.
“We promised them they would have an experience that they would want to be back for years to come,” Hillman said.
The money put into sporting facilities pays off when events are held. The city and CVB have had input into the process of making sure visitors for events have what they need close by.
“We know that the city of Dothan can accommodate teams with hotels, restaurants,” Jones said. “Our complexes are pretty centrally located, easy to find, one or two turns from the motels in most cases.”
Dothan will be hosting the upcoming United States Tennis Association Doubles Southern Sectional Championships tournament for seniors March 8-10.
Westgate Tennis Center Manager Don Bryan said 1,020 players from nine states will play in the event. Dothan has a good reputation for holding a quality tournament and has facilities that aren’t a 30- to 45-minute drive for players going from one venue to another, Bryan said.
“We will have to play all over town, but we have enough courts to take care of that,” Jones said.