The lines will likely be a little longer at Andy’s Frozen Custard this week.
Not only is it spring break for local schools, about 300 youth basketball teams are in the city for the National Christian Homeschool Basketball Championships.
In all, about 8,000 people are in the city for the championships that take place at about 20 gymnasiums March 8-13.
Those visitors spend lots of money in the city.
“We get excited,” said Kristie Dains, training coordinator at Andy’s Frozen Custard. “We gear up and look forward to them coming every year. We absolutely love when they come to town. It’s a nice start to our summer season.”
Andy’s isn’t the only business in Springfield that gears up for the event. The Ramada Plaza Hotel & Convention Center stocks up on breakfast food and the staff will work extra hours, said Missy Handyside, general manager at the hotel.
That’s because the hotel is sold out March 7 through March 14, mostly with families. Handyside said about 70 percent of the hotel’s 173 rooms are occupied by families in the city for the championships.
“It’s definitely our largest room-producing group each year,” Handyside said. “We absolutely love this event.”
Throughout the city an estimated 7,500 hotel room nights are generated by the event, said Tracy Kimberlin, president/CEO of the Convention & Visitors Bureau.
"From the standpoint of the number of hotel rooms occupied, the National Christian Homeschool Basketball Tournament is our largest annual event,” Kimberlin said. “Since we began hosting the tournament in 2009, hotel occupancy in March has increased significantly. The tournament is not only great for our economy, the spectators and participants are wonderful guests for our community.”
Those guests also come at a time of year that used to be slow for local hotels, said Gordon Elliott, owner of Elliott Lodging, which has 13 hotels in the city.
Because of the tournament, all of Elliotts 13 hotels are sold out of double-bedded rooms, Elliott said.
“All of a sudden, you better make sure you have enough of everything,” said Elliott who was shopping for towels Monday. “Lots of towels, lots of food and lots of people there to take care of their needs. It’s a warm up for the season.”
Busy businesses means big dollars for the community, said Lance Kettering, executive director of the Springfield Sports Commission. He estimates NCHBC visitors will spend about $3.65 million this week.
“It is exciting to see the amount of people that arrive in Springfield to stay, play, shop and pay for products and services in our community for the week-long tournament,” Kettering said. “For perspective, it is like the entire cities of Willard and Strafford packing their bags and moving to Springfield for the week. Imagine that!”
NCHBC also brings free entertainment to the city. Spectators are welcome and all games are free admission.
To learn more about this event and others brought to the city by the Springfield Sports Commission and the Convention & Visitors Bureau, call 417-881-5300 or 800-678-8767. The nonprofit organizations are dedicated to boosting the local economy through increases in overnight travel to Springfield.