ROCK HILL, S.C. -- The city of Rock Hill is making a big push as a top sports tourism destination.
On Wednesday the city announced a nine-member sports commission tasked with seeking out and trying to land tournaments and championships in several sports, including soccer, lacrosse, softball, football, basketball and bicycle racing. The commission will bid, find sponsorships and coordinate site visits for various tournaments, among other tasks.
"I think we are a sports destination now,” said John Gettys, who chairs the Rock Hill Sports Commission.
Championship bike racing at the city-owned Giordana Velodrome, national soccer tournaments, a high school football game televised on ESPN and softball tournaments helped put around $25 million in city tax coffers over the last couple of years, officials said.
With so many venues already built, the idea is it can only get better the harder the city pushes.
"Not only better but start drawing international competition as well as national competition. Charlotte has an international airport, so there's no reason why we can't have international championships here in our backyard,” Gettys said. "A lot of conference championships, so to speak, smaller college championships like the Big South.”
"It's an easy sell,” said Gilbert Orr, who exercises regularly at Rock Hill’s Cherry Park. "The product is Rock Hill, so it will be fine."
Gettys says getting more tournaments and competitions can make the city untold millions more and create jobs.
Inside In The Game Athletics, business slows when tournaments aren't around. Store Manager Karin Giglio would welcome the town, athletes and fans flexing their financial muscles.
"It would just bring more people to the city and obviously more money, so it would be a good thing,” Giglio said.
Officials say Rock Hill had a sports commission about 20 years ago and it helped land NCAA women’s basketball game and high school Shrine Bowl game.