When the 58th annual Neosho Holiday Classic kicked off on Wednesday, it brought more than basketball to the Neosho community.
With 14 boys' teams and 12 girls' teams from near and far competing in the four-day tournament, a host of players and their supporters have made their way into the City of Springs to take in the games, and in turn, add their dollars to the Neosho economy.
Joshua Babb, marketing coordinator at Branco Enterprises, said last year's tournament accounted for approximately $405,753 in tournament expenses locally, using the factor of seven theory, meaning each dollar spent in the community cycles through seven times.
Babb said though the number of teams in this year's tournament is down from last year, he still expects a sizeable economic impact from the tournament.
"I think it will be comparable," Babb said. "Overall, we have fewer teams, but I believe we have more teams staying in Neosho this year."
In 2010, the boys' field was also at 14 teams, while the estimated economic impact of the tournament totaled $337,974 that year.
Babb said based on T-shirt orders, there are more than 500 players and coaches entered into the tournament this year, though that figure doesn't include the supporters that follow their players to Neosho.
Troy Royer, Neosho city manager, said that impact could be seen in the city's hotel/motel tax last year, based on the amount of lodging needed for the teams and their families.
"Based on last year's numbers, over that four-day period over 240 rooms were booked," Royer said. "That does help the city. Just that they're here and they're spending money here does help our sales tax and hotel/motel tax."
Royer said because December is also a month when sales tax figures are impacted by holiday shopping, it is difficult to determine the tournament's role in those figures.
However, Royer said the tournament's impact is evident in the hotel/motel tax.
Babb said it is the intent of tournament organizers to keep the spending associated with the tournament in the city of Neosho.
"That's our goal to put the teams in Neosho lodging," Babb said. "We want that money to stay in Neosho. We're trying to help boost the Neosho economy."
Babb said this year's out-of-town teams have filled the Super 8 hotel, nearly filled the Booneslick Lodge, and occupied at least a handful of rooms at the Best Western Big Spring Lodge.
Some of those funds collected in the hotel/motel tax go right back to events such as the Neosho Holiday Classic, including the up to $10,000 donation the City of Neosho put toward this year's tournament.
Royer said the tournament also helps to get the word out about what Neosho has to offer.
Page 2 of 2 - "It helps to promote Neosho," Royer said. "It draws a lot of people in from a lot of areas, not just regionally."
Babb said the tournament has become a community effort, and several local businesses and churches have helped out, including providing meals for the players.
"We've been partnering with local churches and the kids love it because they get home cooked meals," Babb said.
The tournament runs through Saturday, and charges $5 for a session pass, while children ages five and under are free.