Selma readies to welcome thousands to state track meetPublished 6:15pm Wednesday, April 30, 2014
For the third year, Selma will play host to the Alabama High School Athletic Association’s Class 1A-3A state track meet beginning Friday, welcoming 4,000 to 5,000 guests to Memorial Stadium.
“It’s big deal. There are 194 schools that are eligible to participate and I would expect we will see 90 percent of them here this weekend,” Selma Parks and Recreation director Elton Reece said. “Last year, we saw 3,000 people pay at the gate and another 1,000 or so athletes and 500 or so coaches.”
Largely due to the popularity of the track and facilities at Memorial Stadium, which were renovated thanks to funds from a 2010 bond issue, the track has seen a huge increase in usage in recent years. It’s also because of this increased use that work was recently needed on the track to stay within state requirements.
“There was some work we needed to do to the track and other facilities to stay in compliance with the state,” Reece said. “But since we started hosting this meet, we have had a number of state track meets and more teams using our facility, from both high school and college, for their practices.”
While the recent severe weather did not delay the preparations for this weekend’s meet, city crews are working to finish up the final details.
“The last things we will have to do is put up all the signage, including parking signs, gate signs and designate areas where the school buses are to park,” Reece said.
Although the city is hosting the major event, the city does not get any of the immediate revenues from the event.
Gate receipts are given to the AHSAA, while the concession stands running over the weekend will go to benefit Selma High School.
“We signed over the concession rights to Selma High School in exchange for them providing a hospitality room and providing students to help with track events,” Reece said, adding that Selma High has agreed to provide 30 helpers this year.
As for the parking lot receipts, those too do not go to the city. Reece said the parking lot revenue is divided up between the Selma High School JROTC program and the Concordia ROTC program who staff the parking lot during the two-day event.
And, the city, as part of the contract, is also required to purchase $5,000 worth of tickets each year that they then give to clubs, organizations and sponsors.
“In the end, the benefit to the city is the lodging taxes and the sales taxes,” Reece said.
This year marks the final year on the three-year contract between the city and the AHSAA, but Reece said the city is already working on a proposal for the AHSAA in hopes of having the meet return to Selma for an additional three years.
“I have put everything together already and have given it to [Selma Mayor George Evans],” Reece said.
While the fields and track might be ready, Reece said the completion of another project might have the biggest impact on the success of this year’s meet.
“I am just so glad they got that bridge finished,” Reece said referring to the bridge replacement on Dallas Avenue over Valley Creek. “It would have been a mess with 194 schools and their fans trying to fit down Hooper Avenue.”