Saturday, June 19, 2004

Olympic trials lift economy

Archery event helps hotels, restaurants in Warren Co.

By Perry Schaible
Enquirer contributor

MASON - Warren County tourism and business officials say this week's archery trials hit the bull's eye.

Some 2,000 visitors are expected by the time the 2004 Olympic Team trials end today at Heritage Oak Park, drawing additional tourism revenue for the county, where tourism is growing along with the population.

Early predictions from the Warren County Convention and Visitors Bureau suggested the event would generate $1.2 million for the county, and by the weekend local businesses were feeling the effect.

"It's good for business, that's for sure," said Dave Eves, owner of the Kirkwood Inn on U.S. 42 where several competitors were staying with their families.

"It definitely has a significant economic impact," he said.

The event drew 116 competitors from across the country, boosting business for local hotels, restaurants and attractions.

Tables at the Mason Outback Steakhouse and Tabby's American Grill and Bar were filled all week.

"It hasn't quite doubled our business, but we've seen our night time business go up about 30 to 35 percent," said Casey Barr, manager of Tabby's.

Jeff Siebert of Paramount's Kings Island said it's too early to determine the impact the trials had on attendance, but contestants were given discount tickets to the park.

"It definitely does not hurt when we have more and more events in the county," Siebert said.

Lisa Dragan flew from California with her daughter Carissa, 20, and Ken Downey, 20, both competitors, and spent the week visiting local historic sites.

"We're enjoying taking in the history of the Civil War and the homes that were built in that era," Dragan said.

"I've become enamored with (the community). The people are very friendly, very supportive and very nice. It's been a pleasurable experience."

As many as 6.5 million people visit the county annually and generate more than $410 million.

"Tourism is the county's No. 1 economic impact generator. Strong events such as the Olympic Archery Trials are proof of our capabilities and indicate the impact they can produce," said Shirley Bonekemper, executive director of the Warren County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The Olympic trials were hosted by the bureau and the Greater Cincinnati Junior Olympic Club.

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