It wasn’t exactly Wimbledon, but the 2006 Iowa Class 2A Girls State Tennis tournament descended on Clinton for the first three days of the month, and we have to say the results were quite pleasing.

Though local standout Ellen Russell came out on the short end of a three-hour, 10-minute epic first-round match against Haley Neiderhiser of Cedar Rapids Kennedy, the Riverview Park and Max Lynn tennis courts showed themselves very well as Clinton welcomed some 300 athletes, coaches and spectators to town, according to one local organizer’s estimate.

Julie Allesee, director of the Clinton Convention and Visitors Bureau, said CVB staff and volunteers assembled 150 goodie bags for tournament organizers to distribute — the bags typically contain information about the region, trinkets that list the CVB contact information and whatever the event itself decides to include — blocked off hotel rooms and provided welcome banners.

Why go to those lengths? Because an event like the tennis tournament can have a serious impact on the local economy.

Allesee said if 300 people came to town for the event, perhaps 250 stayed overnight. The state’s travel bureau estimates a family of three spends an average of $208.69 per day when making overnight stays in Iowa. Rounding down for the sake of easy math, take 80 units of three people, each staying two nights, and that’s about $33,390 poured into the local economy at gas stations, restaurants, hotels and other things like retail stores and entertainment facilities.

That $34,000 rolls over economically six times, Allesee said, through industries that work with the hospitality industry, leading to an overall impact of more than $200,000. And that’s from about 240 people in town for just a few days. That number will look fairly small when held up against the crowds jammed in front of the Riverview Park bandshell in a few short weeks to enjoy this year’s main stage attractions at Riverboat Days.

Just like the tennis tournament, not everyone at Riverboat Days will be an out-of-towner. Not everyone will stay at hotels, and not everyone who stays at hotels will stay in Clinton. Some will be on the year’s big vacation and splurge at local bars and restaurants, others will be going on the cheap and buying deli meat at local grocery stores. Some will come from smaller towns where they don’t have things like Kohl’s and a new movie theater and will be inclined to spend more time shopping or seeking entertainment. Others may be from larger towns and have little need for local flavor.

All of those factors are why these numbers are estimates only, but they’re estimates generated over years of comprehensive study and should be treated with a degree of respect. They show the logic behind having a CVB and sales and hotel/motel taxes in the first place: Bringing people to town leads to them spending money here, which supports local businesses and the people who work there as well as the businesses that do business with those businesses and so on and so forth.

When the group coming to town is large, the impact is greater, but small groups, even a couple on a short vacation, have a positive impact on local checking accounts.

So a big thumb’s up to everyone involved with the tennis tournament, including all the hard work that went into getting the playing surface itself ready for competition. Some very fine tennis was on display for local fans, as was the community for those who stayed overnight.

The girls athletic union is to be praised for moving the tournament around the state and allowing towns to share the wealth, and our local tennis lovers are to be lauded for landing the event for 2006. We’d like to see many more events just like this one.

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