BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - In the third year for the Conference USA tournament in Biloxi, the Coast is ready for the economic boost that this event is sure to bring.
Jeri Bowen is a Southern Miss fan because her son plays for the Golden Eagles, but baseball is only one reason she enjoys coming to the coast this weekend.
“I come for the shopping, the food, the fun," Bowen said. "The casinos are nice. I definitely usually step in and eat or play a little bit, but I love all of the little communities, the shopping. I think it’s a great place.”
Along with the fun that the Gulf Coast has to offer, this weekend’s guests have filled hotels all around the Gulf Coast. Doubletree General Manager Aaron Duncan said this event is a great boost for all businesses on the Coast.
“It builds up the occupancy along the Gulf Coast. The fans are spectacular. So, as we build downtown, as we build the Gulf Coast, we look to have them come back," Duncan said. "Not just during the Conference USA Tournament. we want them to come back during the off-season, during the summer and during the slow season.”
Overtime Sports Owner Tim Bennett understands the impact that this event has on his bottom line.
“Bar none, largest event in this stadium every year," Bennett said. “The national television coverage puts us over the top.”
Bennett said that impact is echoed coast-wide.
“That’s $25 million that would not otherwise be spent here but would be spent somewhere else,” Bennett said. "So when it comes to jobs that are created, if you work in the hotel industry, it takes a number of events just like this, not just this event to continue to raise the economy.”
Bennett feels an additional responsibility in bringing this business to the coast.
“We’re fortunate that the city built us this stadium, the state built us this stadium," Bennett said. "So, we kind of owe it to the city and the state to put these types of events on and to try to being that additional money into the facility.”
The tournament runs until Sunday.