Teams, Coaches, Fans
Love The Tournament;
Businesses Happy, Too
BY O.J. EARLY
Day two of the 2013 Landair Ladies' Classic begins today, with more than a dozen girls basketball teams competing on the hardwood.
The Ladies' Classic, now in its 25th year, has since 1988 drawn talented high school teams from across the United States to Greeneville, and attracted national attention and respect from news organizations that follow girls basketball at the high school level.
Hosting the prestigious tournament here means, of course, that local fans get a chance to see some of the country's top teams -- and a number of premier individual players -- compete against one another at close range.
Often those match-ups make for very exciting basketball fireworks among players who a year or so later will find themselves playing on the same teams or opposing teams at the college level.
Not surprisingly, the Ladies Classic also attracts college and university scouts to the Hal Henard Elementary School gymnasium.
In past years, for instance, it was not unusual to see legendary University of Tennessee Lady Vols Coach Pat Summitt in the stands sizing up potential Lady Vols recruits. And she was far from the only coach who have made it a point to visit the Classic.
MAJOR ECONOMIC IMPACT
But when the first tip-off happens and tournament play begins, it isn't just players, their coaches, their fans and other hoops enthusiasts that have something to get excited about.
Others who look forward to the Ladies Classic each year are the hotels and motels, restaurants of all sizes and types, gasoline stations, drug stores, and other small businesses that provide products and services for those directly involved in the tournament in some way.
This year's Landair Ladies Classic is expected to have an indirect positive impact of $425,000 on the local economy, Greene County Partnership Tourism Director Tammy Kinser told The Greeneville Sun this week.
Kinser arrived at the figure based on a formula used by the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development which calculates that players, parents and fans will spend an average of $75 a day per person on food, lodging, gas and other necessities while they are here.
Different teams will stay for different lengths of time, of course, depending on how successful they are in the competition.
When the tournament-related spending over the entire quarter-century is considered, the impact is particularly impressive.
"By including the rise in cost-of-living expenses each year, over the 25-year period, the Classic has brought in more than $8 million dollars to the Greeneville/Greene County community [since the tournament began]," Kinser said .
MANY BUSINESSES AFFECTED
Although the largest impact comes from out-of-town visitors, part of it comes from local fans, she says.
"While there are five local teams that participate, those families following the teams are coming into town, buying more meals, and spending more time in town than they normally would," she explains.
Naturally, most of the Ladies Classic-related purchasing is by visitors from other parts of the state or other regions of the country.
This year's tournament features 16 teams.
Half of those are staying in local hotels and motels, checks by the Sun show.
Five teams are lodging at the Hampton Inn, and three and staying at the General Morgan Inn, personnel from the two locations said.
Although no teams are staying at the Quality Inn, the hotel is seeing a rise in guests.
"We do have a lot of parents staying," an employee said. The same may well be true of other local motels.
Of the teams playing in this year's tournament, four are from outside Tennessee:
Bell County High School, from Kentucky; Seffner Academy, from Florida; Archer High School, from Georgia; and Holy Name High School, from Ohio, are all competing.
In addition, some of the Tennessee high schools, such as Wilson Central and Shelbyville, drive several hours to compete in the Ladies Classic.
All five of the local high schools -- Chuckey-Doak, Greeneville, North Greene, South Greene and West Greene -- are participating in the 2013 action, of course, as they have since the first year.
'A TRUE BENEFIT'
The tournament began in 1988 as a way to draw talented basketball teams from across the Southeast to Greeneville. The Ladies' Classic has always been held the week between Christmas and New Year's.
This particular year, the tournament began Friday and will end Tuesday.
"It has been my experience as the tourism director for our community," Kinser said, "that the classic is a true benefit -- not only to the lodging facilities that fill to capacity during a normally-quiet time of the year, but also to the small businesses in town, the local restaurants and our over all quality of life."