ORANGE BEACH, Ala. (WALA) - As Southeastern Conference women's soccer finished a week-long tournament in Orange Beach on Sunday, the Florida Gators went home with a championship title, they beat Auburn, 3-0.
But underpinning the weeklong event was the economic impact it provided to the Gulf Coast. The Gator women may be leaving Alabama with a win, but the real winners are the businesses and state that hosted the event.
"We're the biggest tourist engine for the state of Alabama because people will come here in Baldwin County and Mobile County ... They will come here and they will stay and ultimately that tax dollar goes back to Montgomery our state capitol and it filters back to all the counties and all the various funds," said Ken Grimes, a city administrator with the city of Orange Beach.
Grimes said the city invests about $15,000 to host SEC soccer. He says it's an investment that returns tenfold.
"The big picture issue we get is the exposure, national television," said Grimes.
A national sports cable network covered the SEC tournament. Grimes says the network coverage targets SEC markets and others for future and ongoing tourism.
"So it's worked out really well, and here we are in November, weather's beautiful much better than in a majority of these cities where they're based,' said Grimes.
Grimes also said the SEC collegiate and youth sports players come to Orange Beach as kids and return later with their own families to add to its economy.
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