In a few weeks, families from across the Southeast will head to Cleveland County. For two weekends, an amateur athletic tournament will bring business to one of the counties in North Carolina hit hardest by the recession.
Sports bar owner Kenneth Hamrick of Kings Mountain said he hopes that a crowd in the stands will mean customers in his empty seats.
“Kings Mountain can sure use some fresh money,” he said.
The Cleveland County Sports Commission has agreed to host 10 Amateur Athletic Union sports events in Cleveland County. There will be two weekends of competitions in Kings Mountain, Shelby and Boiling Springs.
Approximately 2,000 to 3,000 young athletes and their families are expected to bring $1 million to the county, which is reeling from 19 percent unemployment rate.
“I've been here 26 years and this year is starting off the worst I've seen yet,” Hamrick said.
He said no one wants to spend money at sports bars lately.
“We do fairly well on the weekends, but on the first of the week, you just never know. You just have to take what you get,” he said.
Hamrick said what he has gotten is a 25 percent drop in business this year. He is hoping that will change on May 1 through May 3 when baseball, softball and basketball teams come to Kings Mountain to compete in the regional championships.
“Bring the city some new business,” he said.
The second half of the AAU tournament will be held May 22 through May 24.
Events will be held at Gardner Webb University, Shelby and Kings Mountain high schools and the Cleveland Country Club.