City will host new tourneys

Owensboro has landed the inaugural Kentucky 2-A Championships for basketball, baseball, softball, volleyball and soccer.

“It’s a very big deal,” Jared Bratcher, sports marketing director for the Owensboro-Daviess County Convention & Visitors Bureau, said Wednesday.

The action begins Jan. 18-20, 2019, with eight teams from across Kentucky competing in the boys’ 2-A basketball championship at the Sportscenter and eight more competing in the girls’ tournament.

That means 16 teams and their fans will be in town on what’s normally a slow weekend in Owensboro.

Bratcher said each tournament will feature the winners and runners-up from four sectional tournaments across the state.

The idea behind Owensboro’s bid is to fill hotel rooms during the slowest time of the year.

The 2-A schools have enrollments between 500 and 1,000 students, Bratcher said.

Kentucky has had All “A” Classic tournaments for smaller schools since 1980.

This year, a group of mid-sized schools decided to create a series of similar tournaments.

Bratcher said neither the All “A” or the 2-A tournaments are affiliated with the Kentucky High School Athletic Association, whose tournaments include all teams in the state.

“Sometimes, the smaller schools feel that they are at a disadvantage in the KHSAA tournaments,” he said. “Most of them still participate in KHSAA tournaments, but having their own tournaments gives them a chance to compete against schools their size.”

The leadership of Kentucky 2-A Championships includes Jeremy Tackett, athletic director at Union County High School, chairman; Eddie Browning, athletic director at Perry County Central High School, vice chairman; Matt Bell, athletic director at Webster County High School, treasurer; and Michael Melton, athletic director at Letcher County Central High School, secretary.

There are 46 high schools eligible to participate in the 2-A tournaments, Bratcher said.

He said the agreement is for three years and automatically renews for three more years — if both the CVB and Kentucky 2-A agree to the extension.

Bratcher said the CVB, a founding member of the new organization, bid $1,000 for the tournament and agreed to absorb any losses.

It’s too soon to estimate the economic impact of the tournaments on the community, he said.

But the tournaments are expected to bring a large number of fans to town.

Owensboro will also host two 2-A baseball state championships, two softball state championships, one volleyball state championship, one boys soccer state championship and one girls soccer state championship during the first three-year agreement.

If the contract is renewed for three more years, Owensboro will host state championships in each of those sports each year for three years, Bratcher said.

Each tournament will see eight teams competing in town.

“Owensboro has a storied history of world-class sports,” Bratcher said.

In 2004, Sports Illustrated named Owensboro “Kentucky’s Sportstown USA.”

“We’re one of the best places in the country for high school sports,” Bratcher said.

Baseball and softball championships will start in 2020-21 and volleyball and soccer championships, in 2021-22, he said.

“This agreement will give the schools in the Kentucky 2-A Championships an opportunity to play in terrific facilities with fantastic atmospheres, while keeping the expenses minimal to the participating schools,” Tackett said in a news release.

Keith Lawrence, 270-691-7301, [email protected]