This weekend, Lawrence will host a youth basketball tournament that is expected to draw 4,500 participants and attendees to the city.
The United States Specialty Sports Association will host its Winter National Basketball Tournament here after using the city for smaller events in previous years.
The Lawrence Convention and Visitors Bureau has been working with Midwest Sports Productions to secure the tournament, which will feature basketball players in the second grade through high school. Midwest Sports Productions works with USSSA to find suitable sites for its tournaments in the region.
The tournament is estimated to generate 700 hotel room stays for the city, said Bob Sanner, director of sports marketing for the Lawrence CVB.
“We’ll visit with the hotels and see what we generated,” after the tournament ends, he said.
There will be other benefits for the Lawrence economy, too, he said.
“When you spend the night, you also have to eat,” he said. “It should generate restaurant activity, too, and probably a smaller amount of retail and shopping activity.”
Because the tournament falls on the first weekend of KU’s weeklong spring break, it’s a good time for a boost to the local economy, Sanner said.
More than 100 teams from eight different states are scheduled to participate, said Josh Williams of Midwest Sports Productions.
He said the organization likes Lawrence for both its centralized location and easy access from a lot of different places in the region, and its many available facilities.
The tournament will use courts at Robinson Gymnasium and the Ambler Student Recreation Fitness Center at Kansas University, and, to a lesser degree, Lawrence High School.
The participants generally enjoy coming to Lawrence, Williams said.
“It’s just got such a homey feeling. It’s a small town, but you can get just about anything you need there,” he said.
The tournament’s opening ceremony is scheduled for Friday evening, with games running through Sunday.