Sports

Area businesses welcome fast money from fastpitch

Chris Ardis, left, and Rebekah Powell, right, hang a welcome sign in the lobby of the Courtyard by Marriott on River Run Court in Rock Hill Friday. The hotel has several NSA teams staying with them next week.
Chris Ardis, left, and Rebekah Powell, right, hang a welcome sign in the lobby of the Courtyard by Marriott on River Run Court in Rock Hill Friday. The hotel has several NSA teams staying with them next week.

Local softball fields will be overtaken by more than 300 teams this week, and the city of Rock Hill is ready.

The 2007 NSA Class A Girls Fastpitch World Series will bring an estimated 21,000 people throughout the week for games at parks in Rock Hill, York, Charlotte and Gastonia, N.C.

That means more people eating in local restaurants, more people heading to convenience stores for their sports drink fix and more people staying in area hotels.

"If you asked anybody who worked for a tourism-related agency what would be their dream event, I think the NSA would be at the top of their list," said Robert Thomas, sports marketing coordinator at the York County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Thomas said Rock Hill is able to provide the tournament with the necessary mix of athletic facilities, food, lodging and entertainment.

Area businesses have taken steps to make sure they're prepared to accommodate the large number of out-of-town guests headed their way.

At night

There's still space left in some local hotels, but hotel managers don't expect that to last long.

"There'll be a lot of last-minute people that just stop in," said Bonnie Whisenant, general manager of the Wingate Inn. "That happens every year they're here."

A banner in the lobby will greet players staying at the Courtyard by Marriott.

Employees there, as well as at other hotels, will wear welcome pins throughout the week.

Scott Martin, general manager of the Hampton Inn, said he plans to have extra people working at the front desk, especially because he said the girls like to hang out in the lobby.

When it's time to eat

Restaurant owners and managers know that all that hard work on the field means lots of hungry kids.

Matt Jennings, manager of CiCi's Pizza on Cherry Road, spent two hours Wednesday night reorganizing the store's walk-in refrigerator to make room for a ton of cheese. Literally.

Jennings said he expects to go through at least 1,200 pizzas a day during the tournament -- about a 50 percent increase from an average day.

"We're excited as all get-out," he said. "This is a great week."

The favorite pizza of champions?

"Pepperoni is, hands down, the most popular," Jennings said.

At the pump

Gas stations also are likely to see an increase in business, and not just at the pump.

Convenience stores are a popular spot to pick up an in-between competition snack or drink.

"Usually it's pretty busy in here," said Gina Brazzill, manager of Elliott's Exxon on Cherry Road. "A lot of Gatorade, a lot of ice being sold."

Brazzill said the store stocks up on those products every weekend there is a tournament at Cherry Park.

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Number of parks in Rock Hill where games will be played

300

At least this many teams will play in the Series

3,500

Number of hotel room nights used during the 2005 Series

21,000

Estimated number of people coming to the region

$3.5 million

Economic impact on the region from the 2005 tournament

By the numbers

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