MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - This week hundreds of families and college baseball fans will be watching the Sun Belt Championship in Conway.
However, most are staying at hotels and eating at restaurants in Myrtle Beach, forcing Conway to up its game in the sports tourism department.
“We certainly started taking notice. Winning that World Series really woke everyone up of sports tourism.” said Devin Parks, the director of economic development with the Conway Chamber of Commerce.
Parks said sports tourism is a new source of revenue that the city of Conway is exploring as Coastal Carolina University continues to win bids for major sports tournaments in baseball, basketball, golf and soon football.
“I think North Myrtle Beach has done a great job with that, as well as the City of Myrtle Beach,” said Parks.
With hundreds of fans expected to make the trip to Conway, several fans said they’re staying in Myrtle Beach.
“From a price-wise perspective it’s not that much different and you get the beach.” said Tony Greene.
Something Conway does not have, which is why they’re focusing on ways to highlight a family-friendly downtown and locally-owned businesses.
“We’re looking for great opportunities. We’re trying to advertise and let people know we do have a downtown here so close to Coastal and to support us,” said Angie Johnson.
Business owners like Margaret Schaefer didn't even know about the Sun Belt tournament and would've loved the opportunity to advertise or offer a special.
“Promote Conway where they’re at a little more so people can really see what Conway is all about,” said Schaefer.
During the Myrtle Beach Invitational last winter, the city of Myrtle Beach saw a direct spending of $1.1 million with hotels and restaurants.
However, Parks believes there is a healthy business relationship between the two cities.
Parks said winning the College World Series really helped put Conway on the map as the city prepares for larger sporting events, like the Myrtle Beach Bowl in 2020, taking place in their own backyard.
“Myrtle Beach has taken advantage of that. We have a little bit of a ways to catch up, but what we’re gonna do is take these opportunities to research and learn what we don’t have that they need that we don’t necessarily have right now,” said Parks.
Coastal Carolina will be in action Wednesday at 4 p.m., bringing out plenty of the hometown fans.
WMBF will have full coverage of their chase to the Sun Belt Championship.