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Viking Classic Expected to Bring Millions to Mississippi

By Daniel Cherry | Published 11 Jul 2011 07:14pm | comments

The Viking Classic is the only Professional Golf tour event in the state of Mississippi. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports how the tournament is expected to generate millions and pay off big for charities.

The first golfers teed off Monday at the Annandale Golf Course in Madison. The tournament is expected to draw in between 40 to 50 thousand golfers, volunteers, and spectators to the area. Tim Coleman is the General Manager of the Hilton in Madison. He says the hotel is booked months in advance of the Classic.

"This is by in large our biggest week of the year as far as generating revenue, and it always has been the case with the tournament with Viking. We run a strong occupancy anyway, but with the tournament in town we go to the next level."

Event organizers say they are expecting the tournament to draw in more than 22 million dollars. Mary Beth Wilkerson is the Director of Tourism for the state. She says all the visitors coming in will add a much needed boost to the state's economy.

"Those who come in and overnight and stay in the hotels, certainly they're going to go and dine in our restaurants and spend some other money while they're here. That's what the visitor does for the local area and certainly impacts the state's economy overall."

The Classic isn't only a boost for businesses. Charities stand to win big as well. Last year the tournament raised nearly six hundred thousand dollars for Mississippi charities. Tournament Director Randy Watkins says the PGA gives more to charity each year than the NBA, MLB, and NFL combined.

"The last five years it will be upwards of three million dollars we've created for charities since Viking took over as title sponsor. That's a lot of money, and that's impacting a whole lot of charities across the state not just in the metro area. There's really not a county in Mississippi that has not been affected by this event."

Organizers moved the tournament up two months this year in hopes of drawing the biggest crowd yet.



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