Cheerleading and dance competition helps local economy
Thousands of people are visiting Chattanooga this weekend for the Athletic Championships.
The cheerleading and dance competition started 14 years ago and was first hosted in Chattanooga.
Over the years it's expanded, and now more than 10,000 people are expected to be in attendance.
Brian Elza with Athletic Championship tells me this competition is the largest they have every year, because of our central location to other surrounding cities.
And the more people that come means more money is being spent pumping it into our local economy.
"We're attracting people from Ohio, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky and Alabama," said Brian Elza, Athletic Championships.
Nearly 4,000 competitors have filled the Convention Center for the weekend in downtown Chattanooga for the Athletic Championship.
"Of competition teams we average anywhere from 200 to 230 teams and we're right there at 230 teams again this year," said Elza.
And Brian Elza says the competitors don't travel alone.
"We're guesstimating every team member will bring anywhere from 2 to 3 family members with them so anywhere from 10,000 - 12,000 will be passing through our doors this weekend," said Elza.
Which means big business for Chattanooga.
"When you bring 10,000 into a city, most of those people are staying in hotels every night. Eat out for breakfast lunch and dinner. They're paying for parking and going to the shops. When you do the math you start seeing some pretty good money coming in here," Elza.
Elza tells Channel 3 anywhere from $5,000,000 to $10,000,000 could flow into Chattanooga's economy over the weekend.
Local businesses are taking advantage of the high volume of people.
"It's been amazing for us. We did this last year and then this year it's been the same great response," said Jennifer Jones, GiGi's Cupcakes.
"We've done several thousand and we're prepared for even more tomorrow," said Jones.
But Elza says, they're not the only ones benefiting.
"We do track the hotels in the area and all the hotels are completely full. Downtown, even out by the mall this weekend. I tried to eat dinner last night and all the restaurants had waiting lists. So that's good for the city and we're happy to help contribute to that," said Elza.
Elza says Chattanooga is one of the friendlier cities they host competitions in.
"Chattanooga is a mid-market city and when you get into those bigger cities you just don't get the personal attention and the welcome feeling they have when they come to Chattanooga," said Elza.
And after 14 years, they plan to keep coming back.
This is our 14th year, matter of fact, our first ever event we hosted was right here in Chattanooga," said Elza.
"When we're here everyone knows we're coming and always make us feel good about coming back," said Elza.
"Everyone was doing their events in Atlanta or Columbus or Indianapolis and we said, What about Chattanooga? it's so easy to reach from all the surrounding areas," said Elza.
"They go into a restaurant and there's a discount for all of the dancers, cheerleaders or their parents," said Elza.
"We've talked to all three stores, people have been taking in coupons especially to our North Shore store," said Elza.
"We look forward to this event every year because we do so well," said Elza.
"I've heard as high as $10,000,000. Whatever that figure may be all of that depends on the attendance," said Elza.
"I don't know how many more teams the city could hold, I think most of the hotels are filled up right now. The restaurants are all full, everybody is having a great time. Everyone welcomes us with open arms and we really appreciate that," said Elza.
Elza tells me they are also looking into doing a second event every year in the spring time.
The competition will be going on through Sunday and it is open to the public.