STARKVILLE, Miss. (WTVA) - The National Collegiate Athletic Association Board of Governors announced it may ban future championship tournaments in Mississippi.
This threat comes about a month after Governor Tate Reeves signed a bill banning transgender athletes from playing in school sports.
This would mean teams like Mississippi State University and the University of Mississippi would not be able to host baseball regionals and super regionals, impacting much more than just the university.
Whit Stuckey is the owner of Moes Original Bar B Que in Starkville.
He said fans coming in during baseball season help keep businesses afloat during the summer while students are away from campus.
“Baseball weekends are really big. Draws in a lot of people. Draws in the tourism," he said. "People that haven’t been to Starkville before are going to come and see what it’s all about.”
With the Bulldogs sitting at 24-7, it seemed that they may have a shot at hosting the regional tournament this year; however, in light of the state's ban on transgender athletes participating in sports activities, the NCAA threatened to take away hosting the post-season.
Paige Hunt is the Director of Tourism in Starkville. She said the impact of baseball is astronomical on the town.
“The first SEC baseball series that we had here in Starkville our hotels were almost at 100% occupancy and our restaurants were busy," said Hunt. "Mississippi State’s events really do impact our community’s bottom line.”
Hunt said in 2020, tourists spent nearly $92M in Oktibbeha County.
Events like regionals and super regionals would only increase that value for Starkville.
“They’re coming to Starkville and they’re spending their money here and then they’re leaving," she explained. "The taxes they leave behind help us fund things that those tourists aren’t using like our roads and things like that.”
Hunt also mentioned hotels were down almost 55% and restaurants about 20% because of the pandemic.
Stuckey feels championship tournaments are just what small towns need.
“It’s not something that we do every year, but the years that we’ve had it in the past it’s been huge," he said. "It’s a big help. To come out of a pandemic and to have it would be huge for us too.”