AP NEWS

World horseshoe tourney ‘a big test’ for Florence

July 25, 2018

FLORENCE, S.C. — The National Horseshoe Pitching Association World Tournament brought in thousands of people to the Florence area, creating a great amount of economic impact.

More than 1,000 pitchers from all over the United States and four different countries competed in the tournament, leaving an estimated economic impact of more than $3.5 million.

The NHPA World Tournament came to a close Saturday after more than two weeks of competition at the Florence Center.

Nick Hooker, marketing director for the Florence Center, said putting on the event was a great accomplishment for the venue.

“This was a big test for the venue and Florence,” Hooker said. “We were able to examine many uses in our new space, logistic issues and adjustments, plus review staffing and services for a two-week world sports tournament. Plus we were able to see how Florence reacts and supports such a major event and gather feedback from the community. We’re very pleased how the entire tournament ran from start to finish and thankful for the tremendous support received from local businesses, hotels, restaurants and our community.”

Hooker said the tournament was an important stepping stone, not just for the Florence Center, but for the entire Florence community.

“An event like this is a major victory for the region,” Hooker said. “Not only does this showcase Florence in the national spotlight, generate millions of dollars and appeal to similar event promoters and sports organizers, but we also have the unique opportunity to impress thousands upon thousands of visitors who, at some point, may influence others across the country to visit.”

Jade Perkins, with the Florence County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the economic impact from the event will be felt for many more weeks and months to come.

“We expect the economic impact from the World Horseshoe tournament will be felt for at least six weeks, but the visibility Florence received from the single event will continue to impact our community,” Perkins said.

On Friday, July 13, the Downtown Development Corporation hosted the Lucky No. 13 Country Jamboree in downtown Florence. A free shuttle service was provided from the hospitality district to downtown.

Ray Reich, downtown development manager, said 278 people from the hospitality district chose to take advantage of the shuttle.

“This was one event that we could measure impact,” Reich said. “Most those 278 people were from the horseshoe tournament and we had a great crowd. It’s always good to bring people downtown and the horseshoe tournament certainly contributed to that cause.”

Reich said the partnership between the hospitality district and downtown Florence has led to greater unity within the Florence community.

“It’s really outstanding that we’re able to work together,” Reich said. “Most communities have an icon. The hospitality district really tells visitors what that icon is and where they should visit and downtown is becoming that icon. We have huge potential to build upon in the future as more people from out of town visit our downtown.”

Hooker said the Florence Center has plans to host other major sporting events in the future.

“After such great success hosting the NHPA 2018 World Tournament, we’re confident we can attract other sporting events and competitions to Florence,” Hooker said. “Our team has already been in contact with a major sports convention, a national tennis tournament, an international martial-arts competition, and several other potential clients.”

“More great and exciting events to come,” Hooker said.