Business ownners bemoan loss of tournament

Staff writer

The loss of the Summer Kick Mid-America Youth Basketball tournament to Marion County has inspired a negative reaction by Marion business owners.

“That’s horrible,” Cindy’s Family Café owner Cindy Taylor said. “We need to fight that.”

This next week, June 7 through 9, that tournament will be held in Wichita instead of in Marion or Hillsboro. Intermittently, the tournament has been held in Marion County since 2001, MAYB manager Steve Berg said.

Taylor said Cindy’s pulled in at least $300 to $400 more revenue with teams filling up the café’s back room. Gambino’s owner Judy Smith said the pizza parlor also had entire teams dining at the restaurant with an increase in business of more than 30 percent.

“Even when it was in Hillsboro we got business,” Smith said. “Them taking it that far away is definitely going to affect me.”

Zimmerman’s owner Ida French said her business over the course of the tournament is mixed, but Zimmerman’s holds inconsistent hours compared to Gambino’s or Cindy’s.

“It’s a good thing to have,” French said. “It did a lot for Casey’s.”

Casey’s assistant manager Emily Barrel confirmed that theory.

“Anytime we’ve got games in town, we get swamped,” she said.

Berg said the reason the tournament moved to Wichita was because of a lodging shortage in Marion County.

Marion’s Country Inn Motel is located less than a block south from the USD 408 Sports and Aquatic Center. Unlike local restaurants and convenience stores, manager Curtis Hancock said his motel does not fill up with basketball players and coaches.

“Most teams are from towns pretty close by,” he said. “Most people go home.”

Country Inn Motel has 15 rooms, split about evenly between two-bed and single-bed accommodations. This amount of housing could not accommodate 700 teams, the number listed for the tournament this season.

Also listed for lodging on the Marion website are the Historic Elgin, Country Dreams Bed and Breakfast east of Marion, Northshore Guesthouse at Marion Reservoir, and The Outdoors Inn Bed and Breakfast at Marion County Lake.

Berg said this is the first year the tournament is being held in Wichita and the MAYB organization is evaluating that decision.

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