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The Wilson Parks and Recreation Department not only provides locations and manpower when hosting various sporting events throughout the year, but it serves as an economic powerhouse in terms of money poured into the city’s economy.
“These events make a huge economic impact on Wilson, especially the national soccer tournament with maybe 5,000 people coming into town,” said Drew Barker, events, marketing and sports coordinator with the Wilson Visitors Center. “For 5,000 people to come into Wilson and shop at our stores, gas stations, restaurants, hotels — it is a huge economic impact. And that doesn’t even include baseball tournaments, wrestling tournaments and other sports tournaments.”
In 2017, the total economic benefit to Wilson County as a result of hosting various sporting events and providing tournament game locations was $3,705,000.
“That number is based on a legitimate formula that N.C. Sports Association has developed,” Barker said. “We are not pulling random numbers out of a hat. This is a formula used on a national level.”
And that number is based on only 13 special events, not every tournament in and around Wilson County.
Tournaments bringing the most money into the county are the CASL/USYS National League boys and girls soccer tournaments, each bringing in approximately $837,984. This December, the National League Fall Showcase will be held in Wilson for the ninth straight year. The girls’ events will be held Dec. 5 to 8, and the boys’ events held Dec. 12 to 15. Both showcases will be held at the J. Burt Gillette Athletic Complex soccer fields.
The WYSA Summer Explosion Cup (Wilson Youth Soccer Association) brought in approximately $652,400 to the community in 2017. That same event will be held this year from Aug. 9 to 11 at Gillette. The 2017 NCYSA Final Four event alone brought in $212,670.
The Brittany Girls Soccer Showcase yielded $260,200 in community income in 2017. The Brittany celebrates its 15th year at this year’s March 8 and 9 tournament; 82 teams are registered, and 51 games are scheduled for play.
Top Gun Winter World Series baseball players, fans and families brought $199,276 in income to Wilson in 2017. The Top Gun Winter World Series 9 & Under will be played at the Gillette baseball complex this year on Oct. 18 to 20.
“Some of these might be tournaments, some showcases and some regional events,” Barker said. “Not every county can support all these people coming into the community because they don’t have enough resources or the fields can’t dry as fast as ours, etc.
“So a tournament might be in Rocky Mount, for example, and Wilson is not technically the host community, but we may have games here and we get the overflow guests,” Barker continued. “Some towns share the tournaments — one town will host the tournament, but games are played at surrounding towns so the economic impact is still great for Wilson.”
Of course the fields and gyms around Wilson are filled with year-round activities, including summer athletic camps, the Down East Senior Games, swimming events, Special Olympics games, youth football games and golf tournaments. This year, Wilson Parks & Rec is hosting a wrestling tournament at the Rec Center on Sunset Avenue April 5 to 7.
“Whether Wilson is hosting an athletic event or is one of the surrounding counties of a host city, it’s an amazing thing,” Barker said. “These events affect every town in a positive way across the board.”
Following is a partial list of tournaments here.
March 8 -9: The Brittany at Gillette
March 29-30: Hwy 264 Challenge at Gillette
April 5-7: Wrestling tournament Rec Park Center
April 13-14: Wilson Elite basketball tournament at Rec Park and Reid Street
April 26-28: Travel baseball tournament fundraiser at New Hope Fields, Toisnot Park and Gillette
May 4-5: Triple Crown Border Wars baseball, Gillette
May 17-19: NCYSA Final Four Boys, Gillette Soccer
May 31: U12 ODP Boys Soccer, Gillette
June 1-2: U12 ODP Boys Soccer, Gillette
June 21-30: Little League district tournaments, Gillette
July 1-7: Little League district tournaments, Gillette
July 6-10: 7-8 & 8-9, N.C. Little League tournament, Gillette
Aug. 9-11: WYSA Explosion Cup, Gillette
Aug. 13, 15, 17: Rotary Cup, Gillette
Oct. 18-20: Top Gun Winter World Series 9 & Under, Gillette
Nov. 1-3: Top Gun Winter World Series 10 & Under, Gillette
Nov. 8-10: 2019 NCYSA Final 4, Gillette
Nov. 15-17: NCFC Showcase, Gillette
Dec. 5-8: USYS National League Girls Event, Gillette
Dec. 12-15: USYS National League Boys Event, Gillette