VALDOSTA — A four-day United States Tennis Association tournament generated nearly half-a-million dollars to the Valdosta-Lowndes County economy for the second year in a row.
USTA picked Valdosta to host the 2019 USTA Georgia mixed doubles state championship for the second year in a row, which is estimated to have about a $450,000 local economic impact, according to organizers.
The tournament has brought in nearly $1 million to the local economy with money being spent at hotels, restaurants, bars and shops during the past two years throughout the community.
Suzan Prince is the Tennis Valdosta Community Tennis Association president and tournament director. She said about 500 people participated in both tournaments with most of them coming from other Georgia communities.
"These players are coming in; they're eating, sleeping, shopping in our community, spending tax dollars here," Prince said. "This really benefits us."
Valdosta attracted the USTA in part because of the addition of six new tennis courts at McKey Park on North Patterson Street where participants sweat it out during the tournament.
Although the additional courts were paid for through the Valdosta-Lowndes County Parks and Recreation Authority, the original 12 courts were built using SPLOST dollars. The special purpose local option sales tax gets most of its money from people visiting the community and buying goods here, which means the courts have brought in more SPLOST dollars.
Not only does the tournament bring money into Valdosta-Lowndes County, it puts the community on the map, Prince said.
"By us attracting these people here, they will see things they like and choose to come back again and again," she said.
David Bain works for USTA Georgia in Marietta and said Valdosta is a great place to hold the state championship. A major draw for him is Interstate 75, which makes it easier for everyone to get to the city from anywhere in the state.
Once someone gets to Valdosta, everything in the community is located in close proximity. Whether it's the hotels, the downtown or the restaurants, nothing is too far of a drive away from anything else, he said.
Bain also mentioned how eager the businesses and community were to participate in the event. He said everyone was accommodating to the needs of participants.
"That's important for these tournaments," Bain said. "You have to have community buy-in for them to be successful. Valdosta realizes what good value there is bringing in events like this, so that's very important for us."
Thomas Lynn is a government and education reporter for The Valdosta Daily Times. He can be reached at (229)244-3400 ext. 1256