JAY SOWERS/THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Large crowds turned out to watch teams from several states during the Senior Little League Southwestern Regional Tournament at the Concordia Recreational District 3 complex in Vidalia in late July.
JAY SOWERS/THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Large crowds turned out to watch teams from several states during the Senior Little League Southwestern Regional Tournament at the Concordia Recreational District 3 complex in Vidalia in late July.

Archived Story

Tournaments at parish recreation complex a grandslam

Published 12:08am Sunday, August 4, 2013

VIDALIA — Vidalia’s new recreation complex created a bit of a mini economic boon in the Miss-Lou in July.

The city hosted three tournaments at the complex, including the Senior Little League Southwestern Region Softball Tournament and the Dixie Youth North Regional State Championship.

The tournaments brought hundreds of visitors into the city, benefitting local restaurants, hotels and retail stores, Mayor Hyram Copeland said.

“The tournaments were really a tremendous positive economic impact for the area,” Copeland said. “We estimate that one person spends $150 per day in our community when they visit. A tournament that has 300-400 people generates a lot of money in the entire Miss-Lou.”

Bryce Marler folds a pink event T-shirt while working behind the merchandise table during the tournament.
Bryce Marler folds a pink event T-shirt while working behind the merchandise table during the tournament.

Director of Parks and Recreation Johnny Hoffpauir said tournaments averaged 20 teams. The tournaments also lasted several days, expanding the length of time visitors stayed in the community, Hoffpauir said.

“The regional state tournament overflowed the park,” he said. “Our tournament on the first of July had 18 teams. Once you count the players and the parents, that’s at least a couple hundred.”

But only a few of the hundreds of visitors slept in Vidalia, Comfort Suites general manager Clara Brown said.

On July 12, tournament participants rented 12 hotel rooms at the Comfort Suites Hotel in Vidalia. On July 19, only four rooms were rented to tournament participants.

Brown said her ability to accommodate tournament participants was limited because many rooms were already booked.

Comfort Suites is the only large-occupancy hotel in Vidalia.

Vidalia spokeswoman Sheri Rabb said she was forced to refer teams to hotels in Natchez because of a hotel room shortage in Vidalia.

JoAnne Brumfield, sales director for the Eola Hotel in Natchez, said the hotel did see some business from the Vidalia tournaments.

“July and August are usually dead for us,” Brumfield said. “Players, umpires and coaches all stayed here. During the senior league tournament, we had two teams stay here.”

She estimated that the tournament accounted for 40 total hotel rooms at $120 per night.

If each room were rented for three days, the hotel would generate $14,400 in revenue.

Copeland said he is talking to three major hotel chains that plan to build in Vidalia. He declined to name the hotel chains, saying confidentiality agreements were in place.

“My prediction is that we are going to see at least two to three more hotels within the next three years,” he said.

Visitors also frequented local restaurants.

Sonny’s Pizza delivered 35 pizzas to the Vidalia Recreation Complex during the tournament, manager Dianthony Paul said.

“Delivering the pizzas generated other business,” Paul said. “People saw the others eating at the complex and others came back later to eat here.”

Vidalia’s retail sales tax rate is 2.75 percent. After businesses pay the tax, Vidalia uses the money for capital improvements, Copeland said. Final tax revenues from the summer aren’t yet in, but Hoffpauir said he is satisfied with traffic for the first summer at the complex.

“I think we did incredibly well for our first year open,” Hoffpauir said. “Every one talked positively about their time in the city. We have state-of-the-art fields, and we plan to use them to attract future tournaments.”

The Concordia Parish Recreation District 3 complex opened Dec. 4 after the district spent nearly $6.5 million and several years planning time to create it.