LAURINBURG — Cory Hughes, the executive director of the Scotland County Tourism Development Authority, said the recent Dixie Softball State Championships in Laurinburg were “a grand slam,” and said the five-day tournament brought about $750,000 into the local economy.
“That’s a pretty good community impact,” Hughes said.
He added that the $750,000 estimate doesn’t mean that much money actually came into the county.
“There is a trickle-down effect that is part of the equation,” Hughes said. “And that’s really fabulous.”
The tournament, which crowned state champions in six different divisions, brought more than 2,500 visitors to Scotland County. While most found lodging in the Laurinburg area, some stayed as far away as Pembroke, Lumberton and Dillon.
But Hughes said the Laurinburg and Scotland County community really stepped up to welcome visitors.
“There were welcome signs from the high school to many area businesses, and I think that put a positive light on the area,” he said. “The commerce community is pretty happy, as well.”
While all of the planning, presentation and critiques of the Dixie Softball State Championships have been nothing short of positive, those kudos are also expected to lead to bigger and better things down the road.
Hughes said Laurinburg and Scotland County can now push to host a Dixie Softball World Series as early as 2021, which would bring visitors from several states in the Southeast.
In addition, Hughes said there is now hope that, after showing what a good host Laurinburg can be, potential college conference championships might be brought here.
“This certainly gives us more ammo to use because of how well (the Dixie Softball State Championships) went last month,” he said.
If there was one concern just prior to the tournament, it was the role Mother Nature would play.
“A few days before the tournament, we didn’t know if there would be heat or hurricanes,” Hughes said. “It was hot, but it all worked out well for us.”
He added that the success of the tournament can’t be placed in any one area.
“Bryan (Graham) and his group did a great job, but it really does take a community to pull something like this off successfully,” he said.
The games were played at the James L. Morgan Complex and Optimist Park in Laurinburg.
W. Curt Vincent can be reached at 910-506-3023 or [email protected] com.