By James Jordan
When the 36th Newton Invitational Tournament starts today, there will be some of the top girls’ basketball teams in the state competing. Even so, its impact goes far beyond the games on the hardwood.
Newton chamber of commerce officials estimate as much as $150,000 will be pumped into the local economy by people visiting the town, using local hotels and visiting area restaurants and other business establishments. People who visit also may be encouraged to visit again, so the positive impact has some intangibles.
Newton High School Athletic Director Brian Engelken said the school itself will lose money on the tournament, but they feel it is still a worthwhile venture.
“We make some money on the wrestling tournament,” Engelken said. “It balances out. It is a high-quality tournament and is good for the community. We never think of not doing it."
The school provides meals for the visiting teams, and reimburses them for their hotel rooms. Teams like Dodge City and Garden City need to stay because of the distance involved. Other teams like Kapaun or Andover Central, may not need to stay overnight.
Engelken noted that there are a lot of high school mid-season tournaments going on around the state.
"There might be too many really. It gets hard to attract teams, so many schools feel they have to offer incentives to get teams to come," he said.