City should capitalize on S&T suggestion

Published 8:04 pm Friday, August 5, 2011

Last week’s Cal Ripken 14U Southeast Regional All-star tournment in Demopolis should be the last bit of evidence anyone on the city council needs to vote in favor of creating a Sports and Tourism Director position should the item ever touch an agenda.

The idea is one that has been discussed here and there for nearly a year now. It is also an idea that Tuscaloosa took and ran with back in April.

The nature of the position is to drive the economy of the city by utilizing assets already at the city’s disposal.

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One of the primary goals of the office would be to recruit and secure tournaments and events to be held at the Sports-Plex. Whether it be baseball, softball or any other sport, the focus of attracting the tournaments would be to drive Demopolis’ economic engine.

The math is simple. People in the city, spending money, staying in hotels, filling up the car, shopping, eating at restaurants equals out to more money for Demopolis.

In addition to seeking sporting events and the like, the individual who would hold such an office would likely be charged with overseeing the expansion of the Demopolis Civic Center.

If that project comes to fruition, the facility will most likely be something of a convention complex, a building whose purpose would again be to attract out-of-town dollars into the city economy.

While that all sounds well and good on the surface, there is always the issue of funding such an office. Fortunately, a good model for doing so has already been set forth.

Under one of the ideas that has been pitched, the city would fund the office and its expenses out of a slight tax increase on local hotels. That would ultimately cost Demopolis residents nothing while allowing the office to fund itself by drawing enough events to turn a profit for the city.

The unfortunate truth is that this less-than-ideal economy has been around for a while. And it is not going to get much better anytime soon. For Demopolis to continue to have the quality of life to which it is accustomed, city leadership must find creative ways to utilize the resources at its disposal. Some of that is already in motion with the progress being made toward the Alabama-Mississippi Intermodal Complex t Demopolis.

The next logical step is to take the Sports-Plex, a facility far superior to most others like it, and market it with the boldness and confidence it deserves.

Nobody is going to help the Black Belt just because they feel sorry for it, the communities of the region are going to have to take matters into their own hands. That task should come more easily for Demopolis than for most of its sister cities.

Jeremy D. Smith is the community editor of the Demopolis Times.