Basketball Tournament Tips Off in Paragould

February 27, 2007 - Posted at 9:19 p.m. CST

PARAGOULD, AR -- It's time to hoop it up...Tuesday at Greene County Tech, the state 5A tournament tipped off in Paragould and it has residents excited for more than just their home town golden eagles.

"We're just ready to win...go Pioneers," said Batesville resident Natalie Dailey.

For rabid parents and fans like Dailey, this week's state 5A tournament at Greene County Tech is about one

"I've watched her play since she was about 3rd grade so I'm really excited," said Dailey.

However the city of Paragould sees it as a slam dunk for the local economy.

"We just got here and we are fixing to watch a ball game then we will probably go and eat, buy some t-shirts before we leave," said Dailey.

While the Dailey's are traveling back to Batesville after their daughter's game, a number of teams will stay several nights in Paragould.

"Most of the teams if they come and spend the week with us will spend between $15-$18,000," said Sue McGowan of the Paragould Chamber of Commerce.

With 32 teams coming into town for the tournament the Paragould Chamber of Commerce estimates over 28,000 people will come to the area and that's prime customers for restaurants, hotels and other businesses in the area.

"It's going to increase business in the restaurant industry probably 30 to 50 percent this week," said Lance Mitchell.

In addition to owning Buffalo's Southwestern Cafe in Paragould, Mitchell has a son playing for the Greene County Tech basketball team.

"It's definitely a win-win for us, our kids get to stay in their own beds and plus the community is making money off of it, it's a great thing for us," said Mitchell.

While Paragould does host the occasional convention or event an economic boost like this is one doesn't come along very often.

"Of course I think we will see hundreds of thousands of dollars and hopefully we will hit that million mark pretty easily," said McGowan.

While the tournament will have an immediate impact now, it will also put Paragould on the map for visitors.

"It's a good chance for Paragould to showcase itself and show the rest of the state what we have to offer," said Mitchell.

The 6A high school tournament starts in Jonesboro tomorrow and while not as many teams are involved, Jonesboro hopes to see a similar economic boom.