Story by Lindsey Morehead found on TulsaBusiness.com
When 160 soccer teams descend on Bixby April 27 to compete in the OK Texans Friendship Cup at Bentley Park Sports Complex, Mayor Ray Bowen will see the same thing he sees at every local tournament: opportunity.
“I just checked with the Hampton and Holiday Inns and they’re booked up completely for the tournament,” Bowen said. “Rooms in Bixby are gone, and nine hotels in Tulsa are booked up, too.”
Last year, 648 teams took the field at Bentley Park, bringing nearly 24,000 visitors to Bixby and more than $1 million – and that’s just for competitive baseball, the only sport that tracks its numbers. Throw in softball, soccer and youth recreational baseball, and Bowen conservatively puts the sports park’s annual economic impact closer to $1.75 million.
“It’s a big deal for Bixby,” Bowen said.
Just four years after its completion, the 115-acre sports park has become a primary economic driver for the city and significant quality-of-life amenity.
“In the last 10 years, Bixby’s population has grown about 60 percent,” Bowen said. “We have been, for five years, the fastest-growing city in Oklahoma, and for 10 years, we’ve been in the top three.
“The No. 1 reason people pick Bixby is our school system, and the No. 2 reason is our quality of life. Bentley Park plays a big part in that.”
Now Bowen, other city leaders…
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