FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Northwest Arkansas and its many local merchants were big winners earlier this month thanks to the 2009 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships held at John McDonnell Field on the campus of the University of Arkansas.
In the midst of difficult economic times, the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships provided a boost to the local economy on the heels of the Walmart annual meeting.
More than 5,000 student-athletes, coaches, officials, media members and fans spent time and money at local hotels, restaurants and other businesses. Teams began arriving as early as Sunday, June 7, for practice sessions and preparation while competition commenced on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. A typical stay included six to seven nights of hotel accommodations and during the event’s duration local vendors could serve more than 12,000 meals to participants, coaches and fans.
"As the host to nearly 175 home events each year, Razorback Athletics is proud to contribute to the continued economic growth of Northwest Arkansas," Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Jeff Long said. "Each year thousands of people come to the University of Arkansas campus to attend athletic events in all 19 of our sport programs including numerous Southeastern Conference and NCAA championships. Our relationship with merchants in our local communities continues to benefit the Razorbacks, the University of Arkansas and the Northwest Arkansas region."
The four-day meet featured approximately 1,100 student-athletes, 800 coaches, 210 media members and media relations personnel, 210 officials and as many as 2,700 fans. According to numbers developed using the latest estimates published in the 2007 Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism Annual Report. The report estimates visitors to Fayetteville spend an average of $224.57 on a one to two day visit.
Based on the formula, the NCAA Track and Field Championships netted an estimated $2.25 million. The true economic impact may even exceed that total based on the week-long event.
"Hosting the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field event is huge economically for the city of Fayetteville, our hotels are full, and visitors from the event are in our restaurants, attractions and stores spending money," Fayetteville Visitors Bureau Director Allyson Twiggs Dyer said. "And more importantly the NCAA event puts the city of Fayetteville on a national stage when sports reporters use our city as a byline in their articles in newspapers all across the country. The local economies of Northwest Arkansas have once again benefitted from the many athletic events held on the campus of the University of Arkansas."
Arkansas hosted 174 regular season home events in the 2008-09 athletic year. In addition, the Razorbacks hosted conference and national competitions including the 2008 ITA Men’s Tennis Central Regional, the 2009 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, the 2009 NCAA Gymnastics South Central Regional, a first-round basketball game in the 2009 Women’s National Invitational Tournament (WNIT), the 2009 SEC Women’ Tennis Championship and the 2009 NCAA Women’s Tennis Fayetteville Regional.
The University of Arkansas campus also plays host to dozens of sports camps, high school championships, all-star events and other athletic related activities and competitions on an annual basis.