HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Hattiesburg hotels and restaurants are planning for more business as the city prepares to host the NCAA Regional Baseball Tournament at the University of Southern Mississippi this weekend.
The event, from June 2-4, will be held at Pete Taylor Park and will feature teams from USM, Mississippi State, South Alabama and the University of Illinois-Chicago.
VisitHattiesburg estimates that nearly 2,000 people, including players, coaches and spectators, will directly spend about $1.7 million in Hattiesburg over the weekend.
The organization projects a $2.3 million overall impact on the Hub City economy.
"(The visitors have) got to have a place to sleep, they've got to have a place to eat, they're going to get gasoline," said Rick Taylor, executive director of the Hattiesburg Convention Commission and the Hattiesburg Tourism Commission. "We have every expectation they'll spend a little money in our shops and that sort of thing."
Managers at some Hattiesburg hotels say they've been getting inquiries about room availability.
The city has about 3,500 hotel rooms.
"As soon as they announced (the tournament location), our phones lit up on Memorial Day and we've had calls everyday since and I think it's going to be a city-wide sell out before it's over with," said Chris Rowell, manager of the Courtyard by Marriott and Residence Inn by Marriott.
And restaurants like Glory Bound Gyro Company on Highway 49 are considering extending hours to accommodate extra patrons.
"We definitely are expecting huge lunches for Saturday and Sunday, possibly Friday as well," said Riley Surber, restaurant manager.
Meanwhile, the timing of this weekend's tournament couldn't be better for some fans of the team from the University of Illinois-Chicago.
On Friday, American Airlines will begin offering a daily flight to and from Chicago at the Hattiesburg-Laurel Regional Airport.
Airport administrators said they don't yet know how many fans of that team will take advantage of the new service.