FLORENCE, S.C. – In July of 2018, thousands of professional horseshoe players and enthusiasts from across the world will converge at the Florence Civic Center for the National Horseshoe Pitching World Tournament.
The tournament is a two-week event and is expected to draw more than 1,200 participants from all 50 states, Canada and several other countries. It is scheduled for July 9 to July 21 of 2018.
Civic Center General Manager Kendall Wall said an event of this magnitude is good for the entire region, and it will move Florence toward becoming a destination rather than just a stop on I-95.
“These people are coming from all over the country, and Canada, and a lot of them use it as a vacation-type getaway, so they may go to some other towns while they’re here,” he said. “Florence is the hub, but we’re also selling the surrounding areas. It’ll be one of the biggest events we’ve ever done in Florence.”
The influx of people is expected to generate 8,000 or more room nights at local hotels and RV parks, with an estimated economic impact of about $3.5 million.
Mike Miller, president of the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce, said the impact this will have of Florence businesses is enormous – both immediately and for future business.
“This is an opportunity for us to impress thousands and thousands of visitors who, at some point, will touch many other people across the country," he said. "This is Florence’s time to shine. It’s a huge opportunity for us to create miniature ambassadors across the country who will say how great Florence is.”
Miller said this tournament could influence similar event to come to Florence, calling it just “the tip of the iceberg.”
Officials from the Florence Civic Center bid last week to host the tournament and beat out two other cities to win the bid: Shrevport, Louisiana, and El Paso, Texas.
The upcoming Civic Center expansion is expected to be complete by early 2018, so construction will not be a factor in the July tournament.
Wall said even though this is a huge win for Florence and the event is two years away, the real work begins now.
“You think about how much Florence has changed in the past 18 months, now think about how much more change we’ll see in next two years,” he said. “This is a huge event, and it will be great for our community here.”
The civic center, along with the National Horseshoe Pitching Association, are expected to officially announce the event Wednesday.