More hockey could boost Columbus economy

By Mackenzie Patterson - email

COLUMBUS, GA (WXTX) -  The new ice rink in Columbus has been a hot topic for a while.   Although it is still under construction, city of Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson explained to Fox 54 it is one of the reasons Columbus should get ready to see more hockey soon.  And, more hockey events means more money coming into the city.

This weekend, Columbus hosted the South Eastern Collegiate Hockey Conference at the Civic Center.  The tournament brought in hundreds of people and thousands of dollars to the area.

It was Auburn against Ole' Miss this morning trying to get one step closer to holding the Championship Trophy for the SEC Hockey Conference.  While the players were fighting it out on the ice, Mayor Tomlinson said Columbus had their own fight in trying to get more tournaments like this one to the city.

"They can go anywhere.  We have teams from as far away as Arkansas here this weekend and so there's a lot of opportunities for them.  They choose to come here, and we work hard to make sure that happens," said Tomlinson

Mayor Tomlinson said this is only the beginning of more tournaments because the new ice rink will be finished soon and because Columbus is now Auburn University's home ice.  She explained this could be a big boost to the economy.

"They're eating out, they're eating dinner, they're spending money in the Columbus economy and all of that adds up," said Tomlinson.

Veronica Williams, the General Manager for the Howard Johnson Inn and Suites, agrees.  They had four teams staying at the hotel.  Just this weekend alone, Williams said they were booked solid and made about$10,000.  That is only from players staying and does not include family or fans.

"We can just produce and make more money and they go out to tell other teams and we can be filled up every weekend.  That's what this city needs," said Williams.

Williams explained being so busy not only helps with profits but also boosts her workers' morale.

"It brings in jobs.  It helps you to support your staff.  They don't have to be cut with hours or time," said Williams.

Mayor Tomlinson says the new rink should open around April.  The ice rink will not only house hockey but there is talk of offering figure skating and curling.

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