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NCAA Corvallis Gymnastics Regional

Angie Alexander, right, of Florida, and Katrina Smith, left, of Maryland, cheer with the rest of the Florida fan section during the second session of the NCAA Corvallis Regional on Friday. All of the fans in the Florida fan group came from out of state to cheer at the regional evant, including Alexander and Smith, who each have a daughter on the team. Athletic events at OSU have long offered boosts for the local economy.

Flat Tail Brewing had customers on Thursday night who were fans of Iowa and other colleges competing in last weekend's NCAA gymnastics regional at Oregon State University, said Kyle Davis, the general manager of the downtown Corvallis craft brewery.

“The college is a big bonus for us as far as these events go,” Davis added.

OSU sports, and football in particular, have long been a boost for the local economy, said Christina Rehklau, executive director of Visit Corvallis.

But the Beavers have held more postseason games than usual in the last year or so, mainly due to success in various sports, said Zack Lassiter, deputy athletic director for external operations at OSU. “It’s something we’re excited about and we want to see continue,” he said.

For the local economy, those extra games and competitions translate into additional tourism, with more people coming to town and providing extra business for hotels, restaurants and stores.

“The sporting events actually boost our bottom line a lot. We’re pretty full this weekend,” said Kimberly Stinnett, assistant manager at University Inn.

Nine teams, after all, were competing at Gill Coliseum in the gymnastics regional. And sports squads can bring along not only players and coaches, but their families, fans, cheerleaders and even pep bands, Rehklau said.

“None of these folks would be coming to Corvallis were it not for this event. All of those economic gains from our visitors, that’s a big thing for our business community,” Lassiter said.

Two weeks ago, OSU’s women’s basketball team hosted the first and second rounds of the NCAA tournament, which brought three additional teams to Corvallis. In the fall, the OSU men’s soccer team competed in a first-round game on campus. Last spring, the Beaver baseball team began its quest for a national title with regionals and super regionals at Goss Stadium. And the OSU wrestling squad hosted the Pac-12 wrestling championships at Gill Coliseum just more than a year ago.

Rehklau cited the Dean Runyan Association’s 2017 Oregon Travel Impacts Study, released in June 2018, which estimated each overnight visitor staying in paid lodging in Benton County averages $173 in spending in the area during their trip. Those visitors average $104 in spending per day.

Lassiter said that while the NCAA gets all revenue from ticket sales, hosting postseason play creates a small amount of income for the university from parking and concessions. “But that’s not the primary purpose of why we put on an event,” Lassiter added.

The main reason is winning.

Statistically, teams win more at home in front of their own fans than they do on the road, so hosting an event provides a better opportunity for Beaver squads to advance, Lassiter said.

“There’s an advantage. They know the venue. They get to sleep in their own beds. All the logistics of traveling and all those things that can go wrong when you travel, you take that out of the hands of fate,” he said.

The competition has to deal with all of the potential headaches instead.

“If there’s an event that can be hosted in Corvallis and we can compete in that, we’ll aggressively pursue it,” Lassiter said.

“As our teams play in the postseason more often and get more competitive, we’re hopeful to have more opportunities to host,” he added.

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Kyle Odegard can be reached at kyle.odegard@lee.net, 541-812-6077 or via Twitter @KyleOdegard.

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