Weekend of sports fills Tupelo hotels

TUPELO – Thousands of sporting participants begin their descent on Tupelo today, filling hotels, restaurants and gas stations.
The city is expected to host 3,000 people participating in softball, tennis, gymnastics and soccer events, according to Matt Wyatt, director of sports development at the Tupelo Convention & Visitors Bureau. Many of the participants will travel with two family members, he added, and about 75 percent of the visitors are expected to stay at least one night.
Tupelo area hotels already are seeing the financial impact of the sporting events.
“Everything’s full,” said Bruce Patel, owner of Comfort Suites and Howard Johnson in Tupelo. “It seems like this will be one of the busiest weekends of the year, if not the busiest of the year.”
Managers at other hotels such as the Hilton Garden Inn, the Wingate by Wyndham and Holiday Inn Express say they are sold out or expect to sell out. And with the large number of visitors, the tourists are looking to other cities as Tupelo’s 1,867 rooms fill up.
“It’s not a bad problem to have,” Wyatt said.
Officials at the CVB have had reports of participants staying in surrounding towns such as Pontotoc and New Albany.
Patel said he’s heard from his counterparts in Columbus, Tuscaloosa, Starkville and West Point who say they are sold out.
He said some of the business is from the Tupelo sporting events, but he cited a full slate of events within 60 miles.
Sure enough, The Hampton Inn and Suites in West Point is sold out for this weekend and an employee said many of the visitors are in town for Super Bulldog Weekend in Starkville, which features Mississippi State University’s spring football game as well as baseball games.
And while they are in town, the tourists are going to spend money whenever they eat, get gas, shop and visit area attractions.
Wyatt said he expects to release economic impact figures next week after the CVB gets actual participant counts.
“But just in hotels, it’s almost a quarter of a million (dollars),” he said.

Contact Carlie Kollath at (662) 678-1598 or carlie.kollath@djournal.com.