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Peach Jam and other sporting events have significant economic impact on local area

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Sporting events make a huge economic impact on the Augusta area, and it’s not just the annual Masters Tournament that brings in the dough.

The Nike Elite Youth Basketball League Peach Jam basketball tournament was canceled fully in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, the tournament returned but only allowed volunteers and the players at the event.

Despite that, the Peach Jam still had an estimated economic impact of more than $4 million dollars in 2021, according to the Augusta Sports Council.

The estimate for this year’s Nike Peach Jam was over 7,000 people in the teams, coaches, players, college coaches, scouts, as well as out of town spectators. The total estimated economic impact for the tournament was roughly $11.5 million dollars according to the Augusta Sports Council.

Kyle Pock of Mokan Elite, left, fights with Jeremiah Quigley of Takeover for a loose ball during the EYBL Peach Jam Championship game at Riverview Park in North Augusta, SC on Sunday July 24, 2022. Mike Adams photo. Mokan defeated Takeover 53-52 in a thriller.

“There is an economic impact for the whole CSRA with people staying at hotels over in Augusta and the few hotels we have here in North Augusta, eating at the restaurants, and all the things that come with a well followed and traveled event,” said Jeremy Jiunnes, Athletic and Facilities Supervisor of North Augusta.”  “The full community and CRSA impact is phenomenal.”

The Columbia County area has also seen many sporting events have positive economic impact according to Columbia County Public Relations Manager Cassidy Harris.

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In the summer 2021, Columbia County hosted three collegiate national soccer national soccer championships. The NAIA Men’s Soccer National Championship and the Division I and Division II NJCAA Women’s Soccer National Championships had an estimated economic impact of $1,407,040 combined.

The Columbia County Cup involving the Bulls Soccer Club had 2,186 participants and had an estimated impact of $436,132. The tournament will happen once again at Blanchard Woods and Patriots Park on Aug. 27-28.

Members of the Under-16 Bulls (in red) lost a heartbreaker to St. John’s 2-1 in the Columbia County Cup Aug. 28, 2021 at Patriots Park. Staff photo by Charmain Z. Brackett

The USA BMX Gold Cup had 667 participants and an estimated economic impact of $435,503.

Other events such as the Columbia County Shootout, Greenbrier lacrosse and soccer tournaments, the Professional Disc Golf Association Champions Cup, South Carolina Youth Soccer Association Cup and eight USSSA tournaments have also had major positive impact to the area, Harris said.

A competitor attempts his second shot on the 1st hole of the W.R. Jackson course at The 2022 PDGA Champions Cup at Wildwood Park, April 15. Photo by Mike Adams

In total since May of 2021, Columbia County has an estimated economic impact of $2,966,555 in just sporting events.

“These type of events are extremely important to the area with all the people coming from out of town, staying in hotels and supporting businesses,” said Dennis Hodges, Columbia County Deputy Director of Community Services.

Ironman 70.3 Augusta is one of the biggest sporting events around the area and will be returning for its 13th time on Thursday, Sept. 25.

Ironman athletes make their way down the 1.2 miles on the Savannah river at the Ironman Augusta 70.3 in Augusta on Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021. Photo by Mike Adams

Since 2009, the Ironman 70.3 in Augusta has generated more than $25 million dollars in economic impact for the city according to Augusta Sports Council.

The Ironman in Augusta was canceled in 2020, which cost the local area revenue. In 2021, the Ironman had 4,000 registered athletes representing 49 states and 15 different countries and had an economic impact of $5.7 million dollars according to the Augusta Sports Council.

Chris Rickerson is a staff reporter covering Columbia County government and general assignment topics for The Augusta Press. Reach him at [email protected].

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