Wood County Commission approves grants for sporting events

PARKERSBURG – Wood County commissioners approved nine applications totalling nearly $40,000 in Innovative Grant Program funding to help various area sporting events.

In 2008 the commission voted to increase the county’s room occupancy tax from 3-to-6 percent. After raising the rate the commissioners created and adopted guidelines for a new Innovative Program Grant/Special Promotions Fund, to be funded through a percentage of the hotel/motel tax revenue that is set aside.

The grants are offered on a competitive basis. As part of the stipulations for the grant, event organizers are asked to provide documentation of increased numbers of visitors to the area as the result of their event, including overnight stays.

Dave Ashley, sport marketing, Mark Lewis and Cindy Sheppard, all with the Greater Parkersburg Convention and Visitors Bureau, met with commissioners Monday on several applications for the funds.

Commission President Wayne Dunn abstained from voting on the funding for the ELITE Sports Center since he is involved with that business.

“We have one new event this year, replacing an old tournament. We have vetted these, and we are bringing them down for your approval as you have control of the money,” Ashley said.

The city of Vienna will host the Great Midwest Athletic Conference Tournament May 1-3, 2014, which is expected to draw between 2,000-3,000.

“This is a new one this year. They have asked for $5,000 for that; it is replacing a girl’s softball tournament that used to be held here,” Ashley said.

The United States Specialty Sport Association (West Virginia) Softball Tournament requested $5,000, the same amount that has been funded for the last several years through the grant program. Grant funds are to be used for prizes, umpires, and other expenses related to the tournament, according to the grant application. The event is scheduled for May 1-Sept. 1, 2014.

The Wood County Junior Wrestling Tournament also asked for $5,000. The event, held under the province of the Wood County Recreation Commission, is planning the 37th annual West Virginia Junior State Wrestling Tournament at Parkersburg High School on March 1-2, 2014. The tournament will include participants from across the state and has averaged 850 wrestlers ranging in age from 4-15. According to the grant application, 80 percent of the wrestlers travel more than 10 miles to attend the 2-day event, and most participants would seek overnight lodging. Attendance was more than 700 from outside the area, with total anticipated attendance with participants, family members and friends, couches, to be around 4,000. The tournament is scheduled for Feb. 28-March 2, 2014.

“This is one of our largest events we do,” Ashley said.

The city of Vienna, hosting the West Virginia SSAC Girls High School tournament, asked for $5,000 for the 2-day event which is expected to draw more than 5,000. The event is scheduled for May 28-29, 2014. It’s anticipated it will draw about 2,000 visitors who will stay overnight in the area.

The West Virginia Duals, a multi-state wrestling tourney involving high school, middle school and elementary-aged teams is conducted at Parkersburg High School and Parkersburg South High School in Jan. 3-4. This tourney is anticipating more than 50 teams to attend and asked for $5,000.

“This is held at a time when room nights are traditionally down, so this tournament really helps with that,” Ashley said.

The West Virginia USSSA Baseball event hosts world qualifier tournaments and a state middle school tournament bringing in teams from all over the eastern United States, according to organizers. This event is projected to draw 2,500-3,000 in attendance including players with an estimated 800 in overnight stays. Dates for the event area June 5-9; June 12-15, and July 10-13.

“They asked for an increase this year, up to $3,000, but rooms were pretty quiet on this event, so we are recommending you fund them at the same level of $2,500,” Ashley said. The event would host world qualifier tournaments and a state middle school tournament bringing in teams from the eastern U.S.; teams from all over West Virginia for the state Middle School tournament. Events dates are June 5-8; July 11-14 and June 12-15; March-August and June-September.

The Parkersburg South Basketball Youth Tournament requested $5,000. According the application, the event is a tourney for boys and girls grades 5-12 held in April and draws between 70-95 teams. It’s a 3-day event. According to the application it’s held the first part of April. The Mid-Ohio Valley Invitational is a 2-day event; and a regional tourney is usually held at the end of May/first of June.

The Wood County Sports Association Inc. sponsoring the Mountaineer Showdown/USSSA State Champs sponsors two tourneys for girls 8-18 in softball competition is held June 14-16, 2014. The application did not have a requested amount, Ashley said the organizers are asking for $2,000, the same as last year.

The ELITE Sports Center asked for $5,000 to help multiple events throughout the year.

“Over the year, they will do 600-800 rooms that will be sold in conjunction with their events,” Ashley said. A request for $5,000 was submitted and approved from that business.