Sports tourism growing in Grand Strand - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Sports tourism growing in Grand Strand

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By A.J. Ross - bio | email

NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The City of North Myrtle Beach is banking on a new sporting event to bring in an unprecedented amount of revenue to the area. 

On Wednesday, city officials announced a new partnership with the United States Basketball Association (USBA) in which the city will host an annual youth basketball tournament for the next three years.

"Sports tourism has become a large part of tourism all over the United States," explained North Myrtle Beach Mayor Marilyn Hatley.  "It's very important that you find a niche - the type of sports that you think will fit in your neighborhood."

North Myrtle Beach Chamber President Marc Jordan agrees. 

"We've got cities all over the country that are vying for this tournament right now, so it says a lot I think for us," he commented.

While the tournament has been held in the Grand Strand in previous years, Jordan says it is important that the city make a commitment to the USBA.

"We really haven't embraced it as we should have and it is the only national tournament that we have in North Myrtle Beach," said Jordan.

According to the North Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce, the USBA tournament attracts over 12,500 people and generates over $13.5 million.

USBA Vice President John Whitley says he knew the Grand Strand was the perfect site location because of his own childhood experiences.

"It's very special for me to be able to come back here now as a part of my job and offer everything that I was able to do when I was younger to all the teams that are coming to participate in USBA," said Whitley.

Hatley says providing a place where long lasting family traditions can continue is what the city of North Myrtle Beach is striving to be known for.

"Hopefully when these young people grow up, they'll want to come back where they had fond memories and want to bring their families," she said.

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