MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Hundreds, if not thousands, of visitors are in Myrtle Beach for the Beach Ball Classic, a basketball tradition in the Grand Strand for more than 30 years.
The mayor, the chamber of commerce, and all the other entities involved in the Beach Ball Classic say the event raises awareness for more than just the up and coming basketball stars that play in it.
As the players go back and forth, and each parent follows their son's every move, the stakes at the Beach Ball Classic are pretty clear.
For the teams, the focus is to win it all, but for the city, the focus is on getting the visitors to come back.
"For a lot of these families, it's the first time they've been to Myrtle Beach," said Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes.
"I like the quality of the games, I like the setup, it's convenient, there's nice parking," described Ken Ragel, a visitor from Poca, West Virginia.
The sales pitch from the city goes beyond just the families in the stands for the tournament. City leaders are just as focused on the viewers now able to watch from home."You're talking about 20 games on national television from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina," Said Rhodes. "We've got the commercial times on there, so we're able to promote Myrtle Beach through those commercial times and give our city a little more exposure through it."
Mayor Rhodes and Chamber of Commerce leaders say the relatively new broadcasting opportunities make the sales pitch even easier.
Visit Myrtle Beach ads are running every break, and special deals are offered up, tailored to Beach Ball Classic fans.
On the court, banner after banner reminds the fans of where they are and why they should come back.
"Yeah we'll definitely be back," said Ragel. "I would encourage other people to come down if they've never been here they've got to come down here and enjoy this."
Mayor Rhodes says another reason why the Beach Ball Classic is important to the city, is it's what started the sports tourism initiative.
He says when he served his first term, the city made 20 million dollars off sports tourism. This past year, the number was 170 million.