THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 19
When wrestlers gather for the NAIA National Championship here next month they’ll be bringing more than just their athletic ability — they’ll also be bringing their wallets.
Approximately 300 wrestlers — along with their coaches, families and fans — are expected to attend the tournament at Oklahoma City University from March 5-7. The Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau, which is helping promote the event, estimates that about 12,000 spectators will come to the tournament, about 80 percent of them from out of town.
When the fans are tired after screaming for their favorite wrestler, they’ll need a place to sleep. And all that energy it takes to win a match needs to be replenished with a meal. Based on the anticipated crowd numbers, the estimated direct spending because of the event will be somewhere around $2.1 million. The economic impact for the city will end up as a double bonus — OCU has been selected to host the tournament again next year.
“We are excited to welcome the 2009 NAIA Wrestling Championships to Oklahoma City,” said Mike Carrier, president of the Oklahoma City Convention & Visitors Bureau. “This is a great opportunity to showcase Oklahoma City’s growing and diverse sports scene, along with everything our great city has to offer.”
While most college and professional sports have a national championship of some sort, not many of them come to Oklahoma City.
“It wasn’t easy getting the tournament away from Iowa,” said Jim Abbott, athletic director at OCU. “They’re in the middle of a wrestling hotbed, but I think Oklahoma can rival them in those regards. There are a lot of people in this state who love the sport, so we’re proud to give them a chance to see the best of what it has to offer.
“We also love to show off Oklahoma City, and this is one of several events that we host during the year that attracts out-of-state visitors. We’re proud of the contribution that we make to the local economy and the visibility of the city.”
Better Safe Than Sorry…
While the athletes coming to the tournament are hopeful for a safe competition, the nature of wrestling is aggressive and accidents can happen.
Oklahoma City University will have five sports injury specialists working at the NAIA Wrestling National Championships March 5-7.
Andrea Matthes, certified athletic trainer for the OCU Athletic Department, is in charge of ordering the health and medical supplies for the tournament. Items in the shipment include:
• Gallon of hand surface cleaner
• 200 adhesive bandages
• Box of 100 butterfly bandages
• 12 bottles of sterile eye wash
• 24 tubes of hydrocortisone cream
• 3 cases of FlexiWrap
• 600 gauze pads
• 6 pairs of bandage scissors
• 4 cases of athletic tape, and 2 cases of tear-stretch tape
• 10 boxes of latex gloves