Volleyball tournament expected to boost economy

Impact to Marshall area estimated at $200,000

Photo by Jenny Kirk Marshall Convention & Visitors Bureau Director Darin Rahm goes over some numbers recently in regards to the economic impact the upcoming NCAA Division II Central Region Volleyball Tournament will have on Marshall.

MARSHALL — Southwest Minnesota State University and the community of Marshall are anticipating an influx of visitors as SMSU hosts the NCAA Division II Central Region Tournament on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

While it isn’t about the money — it’s more of an honor to host the 8-team event — the estimated value of having a tournament like this has an economic impact in the $200,000 range, according to Darin Rahm, Marshall Convention & Visitors Bureau director.

“When it comes to economic impact, it is tough to put an exact science to it, but I feel that since we have so many great local options to dine at, I know that many teams take advantage of our local venues and hospitality,” Rahm said. “We also have a great mix of traditional businesses like Pizza Ranch McDonalds, Subway and Applebee’s.”

Using a special impact calculator, Rahm estimated that the visitors will contribute nearly $30,000 to the economy in food and beverage sales.

“There can also be a significant impact to non-traditional tournament businesses also,” he said. “We know gas stations, grocery stores, liquor stores and other area businesses can be called upon during tournament down times.”

Transportation sales — especially from people filling up with gas before leaving town — are estimated to be around $11,000.

“Anytime you bring visitors to Marshall, there’s an economic boost because there are people who wouldn’t normally travel here,” SMSU Athletic Director Chris Hmielewski said.

With seven visiting teams and roughly 25 players, coaches and other personnel per team, along with any supportive friends or relatives, that’s a lot of extra people shopping at our stores, eating at our restaurants and staying in our hotels, Hmielewski said.

“It’s a big event,” he said. “And like anything we host, we take great pride in putting on a great championship. We’re very proud of our SMSU volleyball team and we’re honored to host this event as part of their accomplishments.”

Lodging is expected to have the biggest economic impact for Marshall. According to Rahm’s calculations, lodging sales will likely surpass $45,000. That estimate does not include the tax impact for the community.

“When people come to town, they’re a 4.5 percent lodging tax,” he said. “They’ll also be paying a 1.5 percent food and beverage tax.”

Sleep Inn & Suites, one of seven overnight accommodations available in Marshall, has seen an uptick in reservations.

“It’s getting pretty busy,” assistant general manager Sara Oldenburg said. “A tournament like this brings a lot of good people here who would never travel to Marshall. It’s a very good thing. With Christmas coming, we don’t get a lot of people in Marshall.”

Oldenburg added that she believes the college does a great job of getting people to come to Marshall.

“It’s nice because it’s not just SMSU playing,” she said. “There are other colleges, and maybe there are people who will come back to Marshall.”

Oldenburg said Sleep Inn & Suites works with the SMSU athletic department.

“We have sponsorships through the athletic department,” Oldenburg said. “We do offer a parent rate as well for anyone who comes to see an SMSU student in Marshall. If a student is playing in a tournament, or it’s just family members coming to see a child, they’ll get discounts at our hotel.”

Some of the other economic impacts over the three-day span include retail sales ($21,585) and recreation ($17,310).

“Marshall hosts a number of tournaments in many seasonal sports throughout the year, from younger age-group events up through high school and college,” SMSU communications director Jim Tate said. “This NCAA Central Regional Tournament is really special, though. It brings to town Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference teams that are familiar with Marshall, but also teams from other parts of the Midwest that are not.”

Participating teams this year are traveling from Arkansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Missouri.

“I know the rule of thumb is that every dollar spent locally turns over seven times,” Tate said. “These teams and their fans will be in town for a few days, and will have an opportunity to find out for themselves what makes Marshall, and SMSU, special places.”

Rahm said Marshall is known throughout the region for its top-notch facilities and well-organized tournaments.

“Marshall sports associations and SMSU take considerable pride when visiting sports teams come to town,” he said. “We take great comfort knowing that SMSU Athletic Director Chris Hmielewski and his team will do a fantastic job at running this regional tournament or any tournament for that matter.”

Part of the experience includes the opportunity to highlight the SMSU campus.

“The other side of this, too, is what impact you might be making on a family member who has yet to choose a college or a future place to bring their family,” Rahm said. “We really try and make a good first and lasting impression.”

A strong partnership between SMSU and other organizations in Marshall — like the Visitors Bureau, Chamber of Commerce and many others — has been a benefit to the community for many years.

“Something we do really well in Marshall is host events,” Hmielewski said. “There have been a number of examples this year, like the Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener, hockey tournaments and youth baseball. Our goal as a university is to continually bring in other institutions around the region to expose them to our university and community of Marshall, and in this case, to give them a great collegiate volleyball experience.”

Hmielewski said that since the time they learned that SMSU was awarded the bid to host, people on campus “went into planning mode.”

“As we speak, we’re hanging banners and getting the facility ready,” he said. “It’s a total team effort.”

Hmielewski added that a lot of different departments, including the maintenance staff, public safety, information technology (IT), and various faculty members and staff are pitching in to make the experience a great one.

“It’s always an honor when our volleyball team has the number one seed and can host the Central Region Tournament,” he said. “It’s one of the most competitive regions in volleyball and we’re very fortunate to be able to host — not only host, but bring the tournament to Marshall.”

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