Sean Mott | Telegraph Journal
Thursday, November 21, 2019
An upcoming national basketball tournament is coming to Greater Saint John this weekend, bringing with it dozens of players, coaches, and fans, sparking hope for an economic bump for businesses.
Rothesay Netherwood School is hosting the Canadian Association of Independent Schools' National Senior Girls Basketball Tournament starting Thursday. The tournament, which features female athletes in grades nine through 12, will be held at schools in Rothesay, Hampton, Saint John, and St. George.
Geoffrey McCullogh, a coach with Rothesay Netherwood's basketball team for 15 years, said the tournament began in 2011 as an invitational competition, so it's appropriate the competition is returning to the place where it all began.
"It's great to host [the tournament] here again and show off our province to the other teams," he said.
There will be plenty of people in the Saint John area for the tournament. There will be over 150 players on 14 teams from Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba competing in the tournament. They'll be accompanied by their coaches, families and fans. It will be a lot of fresh faces in Saint John, which Nancy Tissington thinks is a positive sign for businesses.
Tissington, the executive director with Uptown SaintJohn,the business improvement association, said an influx of people in Saint John typically provides an "economic bump" for businesses, particularly restaurants.
"We're always pleased to have any team sports in Saint John," she said. "They bring with them more than just the [players]; there's often family and friends that come in. That's always a good thing."
When they're not on the court, basketball players will be staying at the Delta hotel in uptown Saint John, putting them within walking distance of dozens of businesses. Tissington said increased foot traffic contributes to stronger business numbers in the uptown area.
"It's hard to predict, but generally I would say it's a bump to our economy when we get groups like these," she said.
Victoria Clarke, executive director with Discover Saint John, agrees that visits from sports teams give the city a boost. She co-ordinated with McCullogh to book the hotel for the teams and she estimates they'll inject at least $120,000 into the city this weekend.
"It's a significant economic contribution," she said.
Clarke also thinks the visit could have long-term economic benefits for the city. The young players who have a positive experience in Saint John and New Brunswick overall could consider moving here for education or work when they're older.
"This tournament is a great way to see Saint John," she said. "They'll get a real sense of the region."
McCullogh said the Rothesay Netherwood School community is thrilled to bring such a major tournament to the wider Saint John area.
"The girls are really excited," he said. "There's a great atmosphere in the school."