NAIA Championship expected to have big economic impact in Columbus

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Teams from all across the country are swimming and diving at the Columbus Aquatic Center.

Twenty-seven teams are competing in the 2017 National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, or the NAIA Swimming and Diving National Championship.

The Columbus Sports Council says this year's event is bringing in some major bucks to the Chattahoochee Valley.

It's the second year the NAIA has chose to to call Columbus home for its championship, causing a slash into the economy.

Merri Sherman, who is the Executive Director of the Columbus Sports Council, says this means hundreds of people are expected to be in the valley this week.

"We have roughly 500 competitors and coaches that are in with these schools and of course that doesn't account for the fans and family members who are coming to travel with them," Sherman said.

Many of those people supporting their loved one are spending money on accommodations like hotels, restaurants and car rental.

Sherman says roughly $565,000 is estimated to make an impact to the community.

David Boyd of the Columbus Sports Council says each year, the cities across the county compete to have the NAIA National Championship in their city.

"Everybody in North America can bid on it, we can be competing from here to California," says Boyd.

He says with Columbus hosting the National Championship for two years, he hopes NAIA will decide to host their competition in Columbus in 2018.

"We're still in the process of bidding, like everyone else is we're competing just like the swimmers so we're hoping to hear in the next couple months," Boyd said.

"It's great these universities trust us to host their national championship and we look forward to having more championships in Columbus in the future," Sherman said.

The National Champion is from March 1 to March 4. Click here for more details.

Copyright WTVM 2017. All rights reserved.