A mix of sporting events, public safety conferences, religious fellowship and government workshops are taking place in the Columbus area this week, bringing more than 6,000 visitors here and generating about $1.8 million in economic impact. The influx even includes a summit of costumed Star Trek fans.
The biggest gathering, according to the Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau, will be the Archery Shooters Association, a gathering of top-notch competitors and amateur archery enthusiasts at Fort Benning’s Uchee Creek recreation area Thursday through Sunday.
The CVB estimates that event alone will bring roughly 4,400 people to the city, with it creating more than 2,600 hotel room night stays overall, with an impact of just over $1.2 million. The ASA Pro/Am Tour event is one of seven being held this year by the association as far west as Texas and north to Illinois and Kentucky.
“For the archery industry, this is a big-big-time event,” Mike Tyrell, president of the Kennesaw, Ga.-based Archery Shooters Association, said of the event, which will bring as many as 1,900 competitors to the area, along with at least 50 archery equipment manufacturer sponsors and plenty of family members and spectators simply taking in the action.
“Every major archery manufacturer in the country is going to be here this weekend displaying their products,” Tyrell said. “If you have any interest at all in any kind of archery equipment or archery information, you can come down here and we’ll have a guy with a trailer that’s going to have equipment in it that you couldn’t buy locally. It’s such high-tech, high-end archery equipment.”
ASA has been coming to Columbus for about 15 years, using both the Uchee Creek facilities and the Columbus Civic Center. The Fort Benning site, which is accessed via Alabama 165, is great because of the large acreage for the hunting-style competition that will take place amid the trees, Tyrell said. There’s also a climate-controlled building, plenty of parking and ample electric power to fulfill the group’s needs.
“And then within 20 minutes we have all of those amenities of hotels in Columbus and Phenix City,” he said. “The thing is we can only shoot when the sun is up, so by 6 o’clock Friday afternoon and Saturday afternoon, we’ll be sending thousands of people back into town to get their dinner” and to lay their heads for the night in local hotels. There will be a few who bring campers and motor homes to stay at Uchee Creek’s campground.
“We’ll have people here from England, Canada, Denmark, and probably from over 40 states. They come from everywhere,” said Tyrell, pointing out his association will award about $200,000 in prizes to competitors this weekend.
The second-largest event on the tourism-related schedule this week will be the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Leadoff Classic, a small college tournament with 22 teams taking place Friday through Sunday at the South Commons softball complex off Victory Drive. The CVB says it is bringing 600 people here, generating 450 hotel nights and an impact of about $160,000.
Columbus State University’s women’s basketball team also will be hosting the NCAA Division II Southeast Regional starting Friday at Frank G. Lumpkin Center, with the No. 4-ranked Lady Cougars taking on Anderson (S.C.) Friday night. This is the second time in its history that the women’s team, which is the top seed with a record of 28-1, has hosted a regional. Other teams in the bracket include Wingate, Lincoln Memorial, Limestone, Lander, Clayton State and King. The Final Four championship games ultimately will be played March 21-24 in Columbus, Ohio.
Not on the CVB’s schedule, but still notable, is a annual regional summit of Starfleet International, a large Star Trek fan club that will “beam down” into the city Friday through Sunday for panel presentations and just fun in general. There are expected to be about 65 costumed people in attendance, with the group’s home base at the Best Western Plus hotel on the city’s north side.
Here are other events in the Columbus area this week:
Georgia Public Safety Emergency Communications Conference
▪ Attendance — 250
▪ Room nights — 780
▪ economic impact — $217,626
Officer Candidate School Class 14-67
▪ Attendance — 115
▪ Room nights — 210
▪ Economic impact — $60,092
Western Georgia Ministries of the Church of God in Christ
▪ Attendance — 300
▪ Room nights — 72
▪ Economic impact — $36,983
Georgia Airports Association Spring Workshop
▪ Attendance — 75
▪ Room nights — 100
▪ Economic impact — $26,104
Glenwood High School Border Wars
▪ Attendance — 280
▪ Room nights — 117
▪ Economic impact — $52,156
Poplar Place March Dressage
▪ Attendance — 100
▪ Room nights — 100
▪ Economic impact — $24,523
The Way of Salvation Fellowship Trip
▪ Attendance — 60
▪ Room nights — 50
▪ Economic impact — $21,660