SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Some of the best basketball the state (and country) have to offer is coming to Springfield over the next two weeks, to the delight of many business owners.
“It will be hard to find a [hotel] room in town,” Bill Hobbs, Elliot Lodging’s director of hotel operations said. “There will be some I'm sure, but people should book it now.”
The MSHSAA state championships will be at JQH Arena and Hammons Student Center from March 8-11th and 15-17th. Meanwhile, the National Christian Homeschool Basketball Championship tournament is in town all next week at various gyms across the city.
All told, it’s nearly 400 basketball teams.
“They take about 13-to-15 rooms per team, and certainly you have your cheer and band and spectators as well,” Springfield Sports Commission executive director Lance Kettering said.
The sports commission helped lure each event to Springfield. The homeschool tournament has been here for 10 years, while MSHSAA is making its first appearance since the early 1990’s.
“All these teams in your town are going to stay at your hotels, eat at your restaurants, shop in your retail locations, and certainly from an economic development standpoint you have potential employers that move into the area that come to Springfield for the first time and like it,” Kettering said.
One of the commission’s partners is Elliot Lodging, which offers participating teams stay at their 13 hotels in Springfield. Hobbs says that their 1250 rooms are around 90 percent booked next week.
“The visitor's bureau has done an excellent job bringing two good events in that helps hoteliers through what would normally be a good month,” he said. “But it just makes it a lot better month.”
The MSHSAA championships have been in Columbia for 40 of the past 43 years, but Springfield won a contract in 2016 to begin hosting the events this year.
“You see the support that Springfield has always had for high school sports,” MSHSAA’s basketball director, Kevin Garner, said. “The Tournament of Champions is a great example, the Blue and Gold, the Pink and White, and the support they've had for their [high school] teams when they go to Columbia. So, our office and the schools and the administration have been very excited in anticipation of the support this community is going to have for the high school tournament.”
Local boys teams competing at JQH Arena this weekend are Eminence, Walnut Grove, Purdy and Mountain Grove. On the girls side, Bradleyville, Wheatland, Skyline and Strafford also made the Class 1-3 Final Four.