Tobs tout team’s boost to local tourism

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Wilson Tobs staff gave an overview Tuesday of the more than 160 days of events annually at Fleming Stadium before submitting a request of nearly $27,000 to tourism board members.

“By maintaining and developing our year-round events, we have the ability to bring numerous teams and fans from out of town into Wilson, which in turn results in a substantial economic impact for the community,” Tobs General Manager Mike Bell wrote in a letter to the Wilson County Tourism Development Authority about the grant application.

According to information given to the board, the stadium has more than 90,000 annual visitors between 30 home Tobs games during the summer as well as high school and college games and tournaments in the spring and fall.

Bell said 80 percent of the revenue generated from use of the stadium is from out-of-town visitors.

“We make sure that money generated in Wilson stays here, and Wilson grows stronger because of it,” Bell said

Events at the stadium lead to estimated 1,250 room nights at area hotels, and each coach and player receives a packet of information about local businesses to frequent while in town.

Tobs Assistant General Manager Sara Killeen showed the board a new mascot debuting this season called Whirlipig, who will promote the Wilson Tobs Read Around the Bases program with area youth. Killeen said she plans to produce coloring pages of Slugger and Whirlipig at various sites around Wilson to promote tourism and local amenities.

The Tobs’ request for $26,700 will be considered by the board along with other grant applications this summer.

Also during the meeting, Samuel Sandifer Jr. told the board about the planned National Museum of Automotive Design that will feature drawings, models and advertising of cars throughout the years. No building has been identified for the museum and no allocation was approved by the board.

Officials also reviewed the proposed $1.2 million budget for the next fiscal year. The current amended budget is $962,284, but the draft budget includes $13,189 to accommodate part-time employees and internships to expand the visitor center hours to include the weekends. The proposal also includes $10,000 in new equipment for the center.

“Our goal is to update the center with improved technology to ensure sharing information with others is done creatively and visually yet remaining pleasing to the eye for a clear understanding of our campaign goals,” said Dennis Johnson, board chairman and general manager of Comfort Suites. “So much of marketing has changed leading to more digital presence and presentations.”

Tourism’s new website is getting some finishing touches before being launched on April 22. The next board meeting is on May 14.