Holly Bass, CEO of Cobb Travel and Tourism, estimated that the Kennesaw area could expect more than $2.5 million to flow into the area’s hotels and restaurants with the influx of visitors to watch the final four teams of the NCAA tournament at KSU Soccer Stadium.
The two semifinal games — Stanford-Florida State and Duke-Wake Forest — will be Friday at 5 and 7:30 p.m., respectively, with the winners advancing to Sunday’s 1 p.m. championship.
Bass said nearly all the hotel rooms in the Kennesaw area are reserved for this weekend — meaning approximately 2,000 room nights — and if the event runs smoothly, this could lead to more and potentially bigger opportunities in the future.
“Whenever you have a chance to showcase the community, it’s a big opportunity,” Bass said. “I believe (Kennesaw and Cobb County) will be able to do this really well. And success breeds success. If we do it well, we could begin to attract more things like this to the area.
“I think there are a lot of people watching (this weekend).”
One group that will definitely be watching is the NCAA.
The NCAA was likely attracted to Kennesaw State because of its state-of-the-art, 8,300-seat soccer stadium. The 2-year-old facility, which doubles as the home field for the Atlanta Beat of Women’s Professional Soccer, has also hosted the WPS All-Star Game and exhibitions involving the U.S. women’s national team and other national teams.
If this weekend’s event is successful, there is a good chance the Women’s College Cup could return when the next round of bids are considered for 2013, and it could lead to a potential men’s and women’s combined championship event in the future.
The first hurdle for that has already been crossed as tickets for the three games are nearly sold out.
While the community and surrounding areas will definitely benefit from the influx of revenue, the biggest potential winner this weekend, aside from whichever team hoists the championship trophy, is Kennesaw State.
The stadium and the university’s budding national image will be in the spotlight thanks to the cameras of ESPNU, and Kennesaw State athletic director Vaughn Williams is determined to see the school bring its best effort as tournament host.
“I called all the athletic directors (from the final four schools) and they keep telling me they can’t believe how good the facilities are (at the soccer stadium),” said Williams, who is only 10 months into his post as the university’s AD after taking over for the retired Dave Waples in May. “This gives KSU visibility from the participants, fans and media. It gives us a window to the outside world.”
Kennesaw State will also benefit from the field of teams. All four No. 1 seeds from the 64-team tournament, including three Atlantic Coast Conference teams whose fans are less than a day’s drive away, advanced to the semifinals.
“What you have here are the best teams in women’s college soccer and the best venue in women’s college soccer,” Williams said. “We expect to have an unbelievable crowd and an unbelievable event.”