It is not just Kansas University basketball that can draw a crowd to Lawrence.
Lawrence on Saturday and Sunday will play host to a United States Specialty Sports Association youth basketball tournament that is expected to bring 100 teams and 4,000 people to the city.
“It will be a lot of overnight visitors, which always gets us excited from a tourism standpoint,” said Bob Sanner, sports marketing manager for the Lawrence Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The tournament — which will feature both boys and girls in third through eighth grades — marks the second consecutive year that Florida-based USSSA has chosen Lawrence to host a major Midwest tournament.
Sanner said the convention and visitors bureau is working to host additional events with USSSA. Another youth basketball tournament is scheduled for spring break, and Sanner is working to land a summer tournament that could be about twice the size of this weekend’s event. The group also runs youth softball and baseball tournaments that Lawrence hopes to attract.
“I think it is fair to say that our relationship with them is getting stronger and stronger,” Sanner said.
This weekend’s event will be held in 10 gyms throughout the city. Among the gyms in use will be the Community Building downtown, KU’s Robinson Gymnasium and many Lawrence school district gyms.
Teams are expected from Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri.
Teams are guaranteed at least three games, and may play as many six. Sanner said the tournament is good from an economic development standpoint because teams often have large amounts of down time between games.
“When they are not playing, we’re hopeful that they will be out shopping and dining,” Sanner said.