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Columbia sports facilities, hotels subject of summer study

A four-month long study is taking place in Columbia, focusing on the city’s youth sports facilities and hotels.

The Columbia Convention and Visitors’ Bureau hired two consulting groups to decide which sports facilities need improvement to attract more tournaments. The $95,000 study is payed through the four percent lodging tax in Columbia, which also funds the CVB itself.

The consulting groups, Aquarius and Victus Advisors, closed the public comment period last week. Mike Griggs, the head of the city’s Parks and Rec department, said more than 800 people responded.

“It’s just an assessment of where our next investment is going to be,” Griggs said.

Occupancy numbers for hotels given to ABC 17 News from CVB show June, July and August had the highest rates in 2013. According to the data, hotels in June were 67.1 percent occupied throughout the month, 65.9 percent full throughout July and 68.4 percent full in August. CVB Director Amy Schneider said youth sports tournaments help bolster those numbers, especially the Show-Me State Games in July.

Griggs said Columbia’s location in the state makes it a prime candidate to host youth and amateur sporting tournaments in the Midwest. However, it lacks certain facilities, like baseball fields and indoor basketball courts.

“Primarily the events will be designed for Columbians, you know, come to it, participate, then go home,” Griggs said. “What we’re really interested in is trying to get these people to come in for Friday night, Saturday night, then leave on Sunday. And so that’s where we’re looking at, what’s our investment to do that.”

Griggs said Columbia is missing what he calls “mid-tier” sports facilities – something in between recreational fields and the places the University of Missouri uses for sports. Griggs said that will not only bring new tournaments, but bring in others that left Columbia, such as the state high school softball and baseball tournaments.

CVB did not have information on how much money tournaments such as the Show-Me State Games brought in to the city in previous years.

“We (the CVB) just don’t have a good tracking mechanism for that at this time,” Schneider said in an email.

Both CVB and Parks and Rec plan for a draft report of the study to be complete in September.

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