Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Tourney a boon for local economy

The ping of aluminum bats, the whack of a well-struck golf ball and the purring of cash registers — that's a winning combination for Pitt County this week and through the Memorial Day weekend, said Debbie Vargas, executive director of the Greenville-Pitt County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The Conference USA baseball tournament hosted by East Carolina University and the NGA Hooters Pro Golf Tour's Touchstone Energy Open at Brook Valley Country Club are expected to generate about $600,000 for the local economy, Vargas said. That's a significant jolt during the lull following ECU and Pitt Community College graduation and with locals traditionally leaving town for Memorial Day.

Tonyia Fulghum, general manager City Hotel & Bistro, hasn't seen a slowdown this month. Four teams competing in the C-USA tournament at Clark-LeClair Stadium — Houston, Memphis, Rice and Southern Miss — are staying at City Hotel, occupying 100 of the facility's 192 rooms. Tulane and Central Florida are booked at Holiday Inn Express. Alabama-Birmingham's team is at the Hilton Greenville.

"May is my busiest month every year anyway, but this is huge for us," Fulghum said. "I would say that it's definitely going to be our best May that I've ever had since I've been here, and I've been here for seven years. ... It's great. We're happy, that's for sure."

Complete story here.

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