A bat cracks as the ball sails to the outfield.
A disc clinks as it lands in its target basket.
A goalie lunges, but the soccer ball flies past her hands and lands safely in the net.
And the crowd cheers!
Sports are alive and well in McKinney, as evidenced by annual tournaments such as the Mickey Mantle World Series, in its 17th year, and the Super Series, which fills the Ball fields at Craig Ranch. Along with these McKinney traditions, new tournaments for up-and-coming sports are also starting to fill the city’s calendar.
Players aren’t the only ones enjoying the benefits of all this healthy activity. The city also enjoys health benefits too, in the form of a boost to the city’s economy.
“We work closely with many of the tournament directors, securing blocks of rooms at special rates, providing them with visitor information they can share with the out-of-town teams,” says Deedee Guerra, interim Executive Director of the McKinney Convention & Visitors Bureau (MCVB). “We’ve helped some organizations put together proposals for tournament headquarters to encourage tournament development in McKinney.”
Staying in the city’s hotel rooms is not the only way visiting teams in town for tournaments contribute to the city’s economy. Visitors enjoying any kind of tournament also spend money at local businesses.
“We all eat, stop at gas stations for drinks and ice, et cetera,” says DeWayne Furr, founder of the McKinney Disc Golf Association (MDGA).
In addition to visitors’ purchases, Furr says catering is another way tournaments add to the local economy.
“They charged $5 a player and we had 100-plus players here to eat lunch, so approximately $500 was generated for just one tournament [with one caterer],” Furr explains. “A third of [those attendees] were from other areas outside the D-FW market.”
The MDGA is one of the newer sports organizations in town, already 100 members strong after forming in early 2011. The disc golfers have already brought quite a few tournaments to McKinney, which means more visitors.
“We’ve hosted three major tournaments so far, and there are a total of four more scheduled to be held throughout the year,” Furr says. “Our courses are some of the best in the D-FW market, and we attract some of the top-ranked players in the world.”
Ryan Mullins, City of McKinney Recreation Superintendent, says MDGA has already made a positive impact on the community.
“In fact, they even gave us a donation to the City’s Recreation Benefit Fund with money they made from tournaments here,” he says.
Mullins says another quickly growing sport in McKinney – lacrosse – also brought youth tournaments to the area.
“Lacrosse has become a really popular sport here,” he says. “They sure kept our fields busy.”
Mike Kaye, City of McKinney Athletic Specialist, says that in spring 2012, there were 285 lacrosse players comprising 13 teams. The teams used four fields at Al Ruschhaupt Soccer Complex seven days per week. In addition to the four local tournaments, a major regional tournament is set for October that will use the entire soccer complex at Craig Ranch.
Yet another sport, cricket, is also attracting players to McKinney.
“The North Texas Cricket Association is very active here,” Mullins says, “and because the group covers all of North Texas, we have visitors to McKinney when they bring teams in from other parts of our region.”
The population explosion McKinney has experienced in the past decade does limit the growth of tournaments and their economic impact on the city.
“There is an acknowledged need in the future for more fields,” Mullins says. “With the growth of sports in this area, we know we’ll need to put in more fields to try to accommodate everyone. We are putting in two new baseball fields at Gabe Nesbitt Park along with the skate park that is already under construction. The fields will be open [in] the first part of 2013.”
Strikes Against Cancer, which in May held its second annual – and highly popular – youth baseball tournament in McKinney, used fields outside of the city to accommodate all the teams wanting to play. Click here to watch a report on the tournament.
“Last year we had 174 teams, and this year we had 237,” says Adam Cox, President of Strikes Against Cancer. He hopes to grow the tournament so it becomes the largest youth baseball tournament in Texas within the next couple of years.
Those involved with soccer have also felt the need for more fields for the past several years. Norma Trujillo is the director of Flamefest, the largest summer soccer tournament in the region, which celebrated its 25th tournament in McKinney over Father’s Day weekend.
“We had about 10 out-of-town teams this year for Flamefest, and about 150 teams total came out for the tournament,” Trujillo says, adding that the city’s hotels enjoyed high occupancy during that time. “I know [one of the hotels] was booked solid from our teams and [another] had anywhere from 16 to 22 on a team staying there.”
The MCVB’s Guerra agrees that more fields and more hotels will ultimately mean a bigger economic impact for the entire city from sports tournaments.
“Having more fields will allow us to bring more tournaments to McKinney, which means an obviously greater opportunity for a positive economic impact for the city,” Guerra says. “And, of course, we hope the more people [who] are exposed to all McKinney has to offer, the greater the chance they’ll come back again, and bring more family and friends with them.”
About the author: Beth Shumate is Communications Manager of the McKinney Convention & Visitors Bureau.