Basketball, cattlemen to have $800,000 impact

The combination of the Kentucky Cattlemen’s Association conference and the Kentucky 2A Basketball Championships in Owensboro this week should pump nearly $800,000 into the local economy, said Mark Calitri, president of the Owensboro-Daviess County Convention & Visitors Bureau.

The basketball tournament, which brings eight boys and eight girls teams from across the state to town, will have an economic impact of about $415,000, he said.

And the cattlemen’s meeting will mean about $374,000 to the economy.

The association says it’s expecting “1,000-plus” members to be in Owensboro starting on Thursday, Jan. 16.

Calitri said the tournament should attract crowds because the top two teams in the state, based on the Kentucky High School Athletics Association RPI rankings — John Hardin High School in Elizabethtown and Lexington Catholic — will be in the tournament.

“Both teams are heavy favorites to win their respective regions and play in the Kentucky Sweet 16 State Basketball Championship in Rupp Arena,” said Jeremy Tackett, chairman of the Kentucky 2A Championships.

Jared Bratcher, the CVB’s sports marketing director, said, “It’s exciting anytime you have a potential finals matchup of the two top-ranked teams. Although this tournament is specifically geared towards 2A classed schools, this year’s lineup features many of the top-ranked teams in the state of Kentucky at all levels.”

He said players include Shelby Calhoun from Christian Academy in Louisville, who is a Virginia Tech signee.

In 2018, the CVB bid $1,000 for a package of 2A high school state tournaments that included the state boys and girls basketball, baseball, softball, volleyball and soccer tournaments.

The basketball tournaments started in January 2019 and the others start this year.

The 2A tournaments are for schools that are too large for the All ‘A’ Classic, but have fewer than 1,000 students.

Bratcher said each tournament will see 16 teams — eight boys and eight girls.

This year, basketball will be at the Sportscenter

on Thursday through Sunday.

Softball and baseball will be at Kentucky Wesleyan College on April 18-19.

Soccer and girls’ volleyball will be on Sept. 18-20 at KWC.

Last year, the first for the basketball tournament, got off to a bad start.

Inclement weather caused the event to lose $8,760, Bratcher said then.

The CVB had agreed to absorb any losses.

But Kyle Aud, CVB chairman, called the money a good investment.

“From a mission standpoint, we filled every hotel in town that weekend,” he said. “And we’ll get the 3% tax on each of the rooms.”

Bratcher estimated that the tournament had at least a $500,000 economic impact on the community.

Candance Castlen Brake, president of the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce, said events that bring people to town are good for the community.

“When a destination attracts visitors, local businesses and residents win,” she said. “Talent recruitment is a critical component, integral to our economic growth here. Visitors are prime recruits. Not only are we hoping they return as visitors, we hope that they, or their children, decide to make Owensboro home one day.”

Brake added, “When visitors come to Owensboro to experience a sports event or our unique flavor and flair, the revenue that’s generated improves our city. It supports the rise of small businesses, creates jobs and attracts new events and entertainment for families across our community to enjoy.”

Chris Joslin. executive director of the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum, said, “I’m glad to see sports events and big conventions coming to Owensboro. Events definitely create a lot of energy downtown and provide compelling reasons for leisure travelers to be in Owensboro. People across the commonwealth, including those in Frankfort, recognize that Owensboro has created momentum and is capitalizing on that momentum.”

Chris Gendek, the CVB’s destination services director, said more than 90% of the rooms in the city’s chain hotels are already sold out and that’s projected to increase as the weekend approaches.

Bratcher said more major events are coming.

“We’re working on some major events that I hope we can announce next month,” he said. “They’re major national events that will bring in 90% of the people from out of town.”

Boys’ teams in the tournament are Warren Central, Knox Central, Christian Academy-Louisville, John Hardin, Calloway County, Lexington Catholic, Bourbon County and Lawrence County.

Girls’ teams are Warren East, Belfry, Mercer County, Rowan County, Marion County, Calloway County, Christian Academy-Louisville and Bell County.