Big game, big business

Published 12:44 pm Thursday, March 8, 2018

Sports is a big part of any college and along with that, a small community. Families and friends all rally behind local sports — be it Little League or high school and college football and basketball.

Lincoln Memorial University sports have been a lynch pin in the community for some time, especially the men’s and women’s basketball teams.

From March 10-13, the men’s Railsplitter basketball team will host the NCAA Division II Southeast Regional. This is the third time in four seasons the Railsplitters will host the regional. They, along with seven other teams, will compete for the crown.

With a big-time sports event, comes the potential for big-time economic surge. A high profile sporting event not only brings in the local crowd, but the traveling crowd as well. Local hotels, motels and restaurants usually see an influx in business every time a major sporting event comes to a town, and it should be no different for Harrogate and Middlesboro.

Director of Bell County Tourism Jon Grace stated, “As an alumnus it’s super exciting to see our Railsplitter basketball program doing so well. But community pride isn’t the only positive byproduct. One, by raising the athletic programs to national prominence, it’s raising money for the school and raising its profile throughout the country. It also brings money into our economy. Having a regional final hosted here means people filling our hotels and spending money in our restaurants and shops. LMU is extremely important to the growth of our community, and something like this can be hugely beneficial to the Tri-State area.”

These sort of events are what can lead to Bell County and surrounding areas to became a premier destination spot for travels.

Tickets for the Regional Tournament are $5 a person, and the first game, LMU vs. King, kicks off at 5:30 p.m. on March 10.