Sports tourism is beginning to pick up steam in Holly Springs after another national collegiate sports organization announced it would hold its championship tournament at the North Main Athletic Complex next year.
The National Club Baseball Association recently announced the Division I World Series would be played in Holly Springs in 2017 and 2018. The champions from the NCBA’s eight Division I regions will participate in the nearly weeklong event, which will run May 26 to June 1, 2017.
“Holly Springs is a fantastic city with so much to offer, and the North Main Athletic Complex is a venue our participants and fans will likely not soon forget,” said Christian Smith, NCBA vice president of baseball operations, in a news release.
This announcement comes two months after the Holly Springs Salamanders baseball team announced it would host the Coastal Plain League’s 19th annual All-Star game next July. The two-day event is expected to bring up to $3 million and more than 2,500 people to the area.
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The CPL and NCBA events will be two of the largest regional and national events that Holly Springs has ever hosted. Scott Manning, president of the Holly Springs Chamber of Commerce, described these events as “the likes that Holly Springs has not seen.”
The two NCBA tournaments are expected to generate a combined $2 million and attract thousands of people to the area with a majority of the economic impact coming from the 2018 event “as it picks up steam,” Manning said.
A contract has been signed for the next two years but it could be extended if the first two tournaments are successful, he said.
“We are hopeful that this will be a long-term home,” he said.
It has been about a year and a half since the $19 million North Main Athletic Complex opened with soccer fields, tennis courts, pickleball courts, basketball courts and its $11 million baseball stadium, which is home to the Salamanders.
Besides the Salamanders, the complex, which has synthetic turf, is used by football, baseball, lacrosse and soccer programs. It hosts events year-round, including this summer’s football camp held by NFL player and Apex High graduate Sio Moore. Moore, who was with the Indianapolis Colts at the time, just joined the Kansas City Chiefs. Organizers said they hope to make the free camp an annual event.
Tourism task force
The town was able to attract the NCBA event, with the help of the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau, because of the Holly Springs Chamber of Commerce’s sports and leisure task force, which was created last year.
Manning said he believes people who were skeptical about the viability of the North Main Athletic Complex and the task force would be “beyond impressed with the caliber of events that they will start seeing.”
“Now you kind of have these national level tournaments coming to Holly Springs, and it just shows you it is a hometown stadium but can play host to national caliber events,” he said. “I think it speaks volumes to sports and leisure being an economic driver in Holly Springs.”
The town and chamber of commerce hope to attract even more events to the area as improvements continue to be made to the stadium.
When the town built the complex using a variety of funding sources, including bonds and grant funds, there was not enough money to cover everything, including scoreboard upgrades and a beer garden. But those additions have since been completed.
“With the addition the town has done to that stadium, we have the potential to have other events going on while the baseball games are happening, whether that be a beer tasting in the beer garden or a corn hole tournament,” Manning said.
Kathryn Trogdon: 919-460-2608, @KTrogdon