Sports and tourism would be big for city

Published 1:04 am Saturday, September 3, 2011

For the past two years, Demopolis has played host to two Cal Ripken Youth Baseball Tournaments, which have pumped hundreds of thousands of dollars of cash onto the streets of Demopolis and through local businesses.

Hotels, restaurants, local retailers, probably a few doctors and many other things have benefited from what has become an annual event.

On the heels of that influx, Art Evans, Cal Ripken League Administrator and Alabama Babe Ruth District 10 Commissioner, asked the Demopolis city council Thursday night to consider creating a full-time position whose sole purpose was to secure sporting events that could be held in the City of the People.

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According to Evans, for the past two years, in excess of $380,000 was spent in the city during the two tournaments. That, he said, equals approximately $17,000 in taxes paid to the city.

That’s a lot. Especially considering those dollars are transient. They weren’t something we were just going to get. We had to find it.

Creating a position whose sole purpose is to market the sports environment in Demopolis is a good move. However, I think Mayor Mike Grayson’s estimated startup cost is somewhat conservative.

A good salesman, which is what we need in a potential “sports commissioner”, can earn a hefty salary in the private sector. There’s not a lot of room for an attractive salary and benefit package at an all encompassing $68,000.

I believe, that position in the right hands could justify a salary of $50,000 plus, which would likely push startup costs to around $90,000.

That’s a chunk of money, but you have to plan big to make it big.

Look at the money already brought into our city based on the work of Art Evans, Rob Pearson, Charles Singleton and a handful of volunteers.

I think it’s more than reasonable to think that an aggressive push put forth by a full-time employee could more than cover his or her own expenses within 18 months or less.

Evans noted that the potential Demopolis will serve as a host site for a Cal Ripken World Series in the near future is at least a possibility. Again, that’s roughly another $45,000 in taxes.

Jay Shows and the local hotel contingent have agreed to implement a 50 cent per bad tax on their occupants if it will help bring more people and tourism dollars to the community through this employee.

Our natural resources, our hunting and fishing, are extraordinarily marketable. One good size bass tournament – maybe a stop on the FLW Tour or something of that size – would easily pump in another very conservative $20,000 to the tax base, not to mention the dollars spent at Parr’s, and Vowell’s, and the Best Western and a host of other local businesses that could use the boost.

Art and Rob have clearly shown there is potential for success in this venture, and have done so with their own sweat, own time and in some cases, their own money.

They deserve to see this idea put on the street in the form of a master marketer who can sell one of the easiest things there is to sell on the planet – the quality of the sports facilities in Demopolis.

Jason Cannon is the publisher of The Demopolis Times.