Meridian, Miss Through an unexpected turn of events, the Kohl's Cup soccer tournament will be held in Meridian this year. Meridian was given very short notice that this was happening, a little over a week in fact. But Mayor Percy Bland says he knew that this was something the city could do quickly and easily.
"I know it may normally take a month to make this and we only have five to eight days, no excuses, make it happen," said Bland. "We were chosen from Tupelo; we are being a great neighbor because of the devastation that hit that area and we've got to make it happen for them. Part of what we get this week we are going to give back to Tupelo."
Tourism in Lauderdale County stands to benefit the most from the sudden change in venue, as a flood of more than 5,000 people will come to Meridian.
"Prior to Kohl's Cup relocating to Meridian, we contacted all of our hotels to make sure we had enough hotel rooms to accommodate them," said Lauderdale County Tourism Director Dede Mogollon. "Mother's Day weekend is not a big travel weekend in the tourism industry, so we had plenty of availability. So it's nice to go from being relatively quiet to busy beyond belief this weekend."
Local hotels will also benefit greatly as many hotels were booked up within hours of the change being made.
"We have 116, and we can sell 116 very, very quickly as we found out," said Courtney Kirkman, the general manager of the Hampton Inn. "We did that really quickly for Friday and Saturday as well. We do still have some rooms for Sunday, but I’m sure those will be taken very soon as well."
The Kohl's Cup is expected to have a similar economic impact as the State Games.