Owensboro will be the inaugural host of a new set of tournaments called the Kentucky 2A Championships for basketball, volleyball, soccer, baseball and softball. The Owensboro Daviess County Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) won its placed bid of $1,000 in April 2018 to host the championships.
The 2A Championships were created for mid-sized high schools to have a better chance of winning state championships. Those sports only have one official KHSAA state champion since schools are not classified by size as they are in football, cross country and track and field.
The basketball state tournament will bring 16 basketball teams to play at the Sportscenter from Jan. 18 to 20. Owensboro will host eight boys’ teams and eight girls’ teams — winners and runners-up — from four different districts across the state. And although the closest team playing in the tournament is Webster County, the economic impact the championship brings to Owensboro is a slam dunk.
Chris Gendek, destination services director at the CVB, said he estimates this three-day tournament will conservatively bring $650,000 to the city of Owensboro this weekend. That money is generated from the estimated 2,500 to 3,000 people that will rent hotel rooms, eat in restaurants, shop in retail stores and buy gas in Owensboro over those three days.
“And the estimate of people is totally a guess at this point because this is an inaugural event,” Gendek said. “It’s hard to pinpoint a number when you haven’t had the event before.”
According to Dave Kirk, destination management at the CVB, most Owensboro hotel rooms are sold out thanks to the 2A tournament.
“January is typically one of the slowest months of the year for hotels. When you’re pretty much sold out for a weekend during one of the slowest months of the year, it’s an indicator that you’re doing well,” Kirk said.
As part of the CVB’s goal to bring more people to the city of Owensboro, landing a three-year contract to host the 2A Championships is considered a highlight for the forthcoming fiscal year.
According to President and CEO of Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce Candance Brake, the 2A Championship has a wider economic impact that goes beyond the basketball floor.
“The teams and fans bring money into Owensboro that normally wouldn’t be here, which supports many local businesses and jobs,” Brake said. “Besides the short-term economic impact, we get to show off our community to high schoolers and their family from around the state. Being home to two top-rated faith-based colleges — this is a great way to recruit talent to come to Owensboro after graduation.”
Brittaney Johnson, president and CEO of the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corporation, said that recruitment goes beyond just local colleges.
“The opportunity to attract new investments to a community often begins with a visit,” Johnson said. “This high-profile event raises awareness of Owensboro and Daviess County to people across the state of Kentucky. It allows us the opportunity to positively influence potential business to our community.”