FLORENCE — The Shoals earned more than half a million dollars from hosting the Alabama High School Athletic Association North Regional Softball Tournament in May, officials said.

The tournament at Coffee-O'Neal Park at the Florence Sportsplex had an estimated $600,000 impact to the area, said Rob Carnegie, president and CEO of the Florence-Lauderdale Tourism office.

During a Tuesday news conference, Carnegie called the number a conservative estimate of travel-related expenditures the tournament generated.

"This tournament saw 52 teams play over approximately three days," he said. "This is a great example of why destination sports associations see Florence as a sports destination of choice."

Carnegie said a cooperative effort among tourism and city of Florence workers was a big factor in the success.

"The partnership demonstrates what can be accomplished when groups within the Shoals work together for the good of our economy and our residents," he said. "We are looking forward to various other collaborations, which allow us to make Florence and the Shoals a better place to visit."

Carnegie said the economic impact analysis is gleaned through several sectors, including lodging, food and beverage, fuel and retail.

The tournament featured Alabama High School Athletic Association teams from 1A to 7A classifications competing to reach the state finals. This was the first of a two-year contract Florence has to host the tournament, which traditionally had been in Huntsville.

Mayor Steve Holt said he envisions more tournaments for the area.

"We have invested heavily for a long, long time in our sports facilities and this is a result of it," Holt said. "I'm looking forward to the next one. It was a lot of fun."

bernie.delinski@timesdaily.com or 256-740-5739. Twitter @TD_BDelinski


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