JUCO State Basketball Tournament Kicks Off Today in Marianna

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Hundreds of players, families and fans arrived in Marianna for the junior college state basketball tournament, which kicked off Wednesday.

Officials estimate the influx of visitors will contribute thousands of dollars throughout the four day competition.

News Channel Seven's Vanessa Nguyen spoke with some business owners this week and shows us how they have been busy preparing in advance for it.

The traffic flow along state road 71 isn't that congested right now.
Down the road, the Fairfield inn and suites parking lot is also mostly empty. But that will change soon.

Manager Bethany Overholt says they've been very busy leading up to the basketball tournament.

"Yes, absolutely, doing a lot of preparation, making sure we're extra stocked on things, just making sure when they come in, everything will be smooth for the players", she says.

Overholt says they have booked more than half their rooms with four teams staying there.

"I just looked at reservations and there are people that are booking online still so some have been taken whether those are with the group of family members just coming to watch."

Fairfield inn and suites opened last march and this will be their first tournament.

Other hotels we spoke to say they're not expecting as many guests this time compared to previous years.

Officials estimate more than 250-thousand dollars will flow through the local economy during the four day tournament. And with the addition of three newer hotels, it will raise the stakes for competition among some business owners.

But Pofolks manager Bruce Williams says restaurants are not experiencing the same setbacks.
They have scheduled extra staff for every shift in anticipation of the games.

"Well, what we're hoping for is we're hoping it will increase our business like it did last year. We probably had a 20-30% increase in business for the week and that's quite substantial", he says.

The restaurant is also using different marketing tools to cater to the players' needs.

"Actually, we get quite busy, the restaurant will fill up, we have teams getting off at different times to come in usually in the afternoons and for our breakfast, and we do a tremendous business."

Pofolks and several other businesses are eagerly anticipating the extra boost in sales. They're hoping they'll receive as much of the estimated money for the tournament as possible.

The tournament kicked off Wednesday with a women's game at 1 o'clock.

The state championship games will be on Saturday at 5pm for the women's team and 7:30pm for the men's team.

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