Report estimates more than 8,000 Junior Olympic athletes, families pumped millions into region

Local tourism leaders are estimating that the Junior Olympics and the thousands of people who came to Lawrence for the events pumped more than $17 million into the northeast Kansas economy.

As the event concluded on Sunday, Lawrence’s convention and visitors bureau released a report estimating that just fewer than 25,000 people booked hotel rooms in Lawrence, Topeka, Kansas City and other parts of the region. Direct spending from those visitors totaled about $17.7 million. The report was for the entire region. A specific report on how many dollars were spent in Lawrence hasn’t yet been completed, but officials are optimistic Lawrence will receive a large share.

Lawrence’s Rock Chalk Park hosted the event for the entire week, but Lawrence doesn’t have enough hotel rooms to accommodate all the athletes and visitors. The Junior Olympics drew 8,129 athletes, according to the report from eXplore Lawrence. The event is the largest youth track and field event in the country, drawing athletes ranging from 7 to 18 years old.

Lodging, food and beverage and retail businesses were the biggest beneficiaries of the increased spending. The report estimated lodging businesses drew $6.5 million; restaurants $4.9 million; and retail $3 million. Other industries that benefited included transportation companies at about $1.4 million, recreation-oriented businesses at $1.1 million, business services at about $390,000 and event rental businesses at about $290,000.

The report estimates the event generated about $840,000 in local sales taxes and hotel guest taxes for the northeast Kansas region.