Every year at this time, Rutherford County rolls out the welcome mat for something that gives the economy a boost. From hotels to restaurants to shops, it's all thanks to basketball. It's a tradition that has gone on for more than 35 years, and the locals don't mind one bit. But basketball is not the only game in town.
The Riverdale High School Lady Warriors are hard at work trying to make a run for a third state basketball championship.
But it's their opponents and other TSSAA basketball teams who will be in town starting Wednesday that Rutherford County is hoping to score big on. The boys' tournament is next week.
"We estimate the basketball tournaments bring in about a $3 million impact. But whenever we're completely sold out, which we will be this weekend, it's an impact of about $500,000 a day," Convention & Visitors Bureau Vice President Mona Herring said.
That's about $5 million over the next 10 days. Every single hotel room in the county is already booked. The restaurants and shopping mall are expected to be full too.
"That creates a huge economic impact for Rutherford County," Herring said.
Basketball is not the only sport in town. Smyrna Bowling Center is hosting the NAIA Inter-Collegiate Bowling Tournament this week. And the Vanderbilt Women's bowling team is hosting an NCAA tournament next week.
"It's hard for a lot of teams to get hotel spots because of so many events in Rutherford County this weekend and next weekend," said Smyrna Bowling Center worker Travis Loeffler. "It's a good cash flow for all the businesses in the area."
Shirley Capps and her bowling club will have fewer lanes to bowl during that time, but she says it's worth it.
"We are glad to get to give up the lanes for these tournaments because this center has had destruction and all from the weather," Capps said.
Part of the roof of the bowling center collapsed after an ice storm two years ago. All 52 lanes are back open.
About 6,000 people will be trotting their way to the Tennessee Miller Coliseum for the Road to the Horse event. This is where horse whispers try to tame as many horses as they can in only three days.
"The Road to the Horse sold out last summer, so there are not tickets to be had for that," Herring said. "It's one of the largest events at (Tennessee) Miller Coliseum."
The hospitality and service are just a few reasons why Rutherford County is able to cash in during March Madness.
Convention and Visitors Bureau officials say Rutherford County is an ideal location to host big sporting events because it is centrally located in the state and has a large number of hotels and sporting venues.
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