Dothan, Al. (WTVY) For many folks in Dothan and throughout the southeast especially, sports is a major part of life. For people in Alabama it’s Crimson Tide or Auburn football. They seem to be the sports capitals of the state depending on who you ask. There may not be a major university in Dothan, but the city and the wiregrass is working it’s way on becoming a sports metropolis.
Major cities like Mobile, Birmingham and Montgomery may have the upper hand in a few areas but not for long. Dothan holds a number of major sporting events and it seems like every year, a new one is popping up.
"We believe we have a special destination and it's really all about the people and our community and what we extra special around here”, said Robert Hillman of the Dothan Convention and Visitors bureau.
The AHSAA regional basketball tournament just wrapped up at the Dothan Civic Center and the tournament came at the perfect time. This part of the year is considered a slow time for the D.C.V. however the spring and summer months will be booming with staples such as The Future Masters Golf Tournament and the Hardee’s Pro Classic, a tennis tournament at the Westgate Tennis Center.
These three definitely bring significant money into Dothan. But there’s more money that can be made.
“Sports tourism is a 9 billion dollar industry in the United States right now and we're looking to capitalize on that in a big way”, said Hillman.
One significant way the city is trying to capitalize on some of that revenue is with the Alabama State Games. It’s was a smash hit last year and is expected to be even bigger this year. The games are Olympic style with events like handball and track and field but also feature events such as ultimate frisbee.
"This will be their third year here and we've seen it grow every single year. This year is going to be the biggest ever.” said Hillman.
The opening ceremony was held at the National Peanut Festival Fairgrounds and drew thousands. But it’s not just multi sport event’s like the state games that are putting Dothan on the map. The Hardee’s Pro Classic featured women from other counties such as Britain and Sweden.
But always with their eye’s on the prize of bring more revenue to the city, the hope is that with James Oates park scheduled to open in April, that will lure some of those major baseball tournaments in Mobile here to the Dothan.
With a lot of the major sports covered like basketball, baseball, tennis and track and field covered, the city is also planning on holding more extreme sports as well.
"We were able to this year actually close a BMX gold cup final which is going to be bigger than a national event”, said Hillman.