BY O.J. EARLY
The second day of the 2012 Landair Ladies' Classic is under way, with 16 teams competing through Saturday on the hardwood at Hal Henard School.
Regarded as one of the most popular holiday basketball tournaments in the Southeast, the Ladies Classic has for more than two decades attracted basketball fans to Greeneville to watch talented in-state and out-of-state teams compete.
Yet it's not just basketball enthusiasts who stand to benefit from the annual tournament, now in its 24th year.
Tammy Kinser, tourism director with the Greene County Partnership, expects the holiday hoops tourney to have a positive impact on the local economy, bringing in as much $125,000 to Greeneville and Greene County.
Athletes, family members and fans will be eating in local restaurants, staying in Greeneville's hotels and motels, buying gasoline and making other purchases -- all ways of pumping money into the local economy, Kinser said.
To arrive at the estimated $125,000 that the tournament has the potential to bring in, Kinser used a forumala that measures, among other things, the number of teams playing in the tournament, the number of players on each team and the number of teams staying in local hotels.
The formula also factors in the local teams that are competing.
"I've always said that you have the kids out at West Greene, the kids out at South Greene -- they are still pulling people into town.
"They are still stopping by Subway or McDonald's spending money. They are still getting gas." Kinser said. "All that averages in."
Of the 16 teams playing in this year's tournament, eight are staying in local hotels or motels. Five teams are staying at the Hampton Inn, two are lodging at the General Morgan Inn and one is staying at the Jameson Inn.
The out-of-county teams playing in the tournament but not staying overnight include Cocke County High School, Morristown East High School and Morristown West High School.
The four county high schools -- Chuckey-Doak, North Greene, South Greene and West Greene -- as well as Greeneville High are playing in the tournament and are factored into the formula, Kinser said.
Ron Metcalfe, chairman of the Landair Ladies Classic, said he is pleased with what the tournament has been able to do for the local economy over the years, and expects nothing less this year.
"The tournament started as a way to bring some visitors to our area that would not otherwise get here," said Metcalfe, who estimated that between 4,000 and 5,000 people attended last year's tourney.
"It grew out of a desire to open up a whole new segment of people visiting Greeneville and Greene County, and it has done very well since."