PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — Thousands of people are in Pensacola this week for the Southeastern Conference Women’s Soccer Tournament, and it’s expected to have a major impact on the local economy.
“The economic impact on our community: several million dollars,” Escambia County Parks and Recreation Director Michael Rhodes said.
Since Sunday, the SEC has live-streamed all the games including Thursday night’s semifinal matches. Rhodes said the spotlight on this area is huge for sports tourism.
“That attraction and spotlight on Pensacola and Escambia County, you just can’t match that of live TV over the course of eight, nine days,” Rhodes said.
Shelly Combs and Jill McWhirter were here to cheer on their daughters, Riley Combs and Haley McWhirter. They were here last year, too, to support Mississippi State, but this year the team made history.
“First time in program history that we’re in the semifinals,” Combs said.
When they’re not cheering from the stands, they’re on the hunt for good seafood spending money at our local restaurants. Even though their team didn’t make it through Thursday night, they’ve enjoyed their time here.
“We’ve been to the beach, exploring Pensacola,” McWhirter said. “We got to go to the Naval Air Station earlier today and see the Blue Angels do some fly-bys as they get ready for the airshow this weekend, so we’ve had a great time.”
Recent upgrades to Ashton Brosnaham Athletic Park were completed just in time for the SEC tournament. Rhodes said he thinks the improvements they’ve been working on helped get the tournament to this area.
“Adding the additional locker room facility definitely, we feel, helped us land this special event along with the upgrades we made to the field,” Rhodes said.