Meridian, Miss. The athletes are ready to win on the field, but officials say the city of Meridian and surrounding areas are winning off the field with the State Games of Mississippi.
Thousands of athletes means thousands of visitors are pouring into east Mississippi.
According to the last economic impact survey taken three years ago, those visitors brought in $6.5 million in revenue for Meridian and Lauderdale County. A 20 percent growth rate is expected every five years.
"More athletes, more people coming to Meridian and Lauderdale County, really seeing what we have to offer, what we can do for our athletes, our beautiful city, our great sporting locations," said Leslie Lee of the State Games of Mississippi. "So it's a win-win for the city."
All the local restaurants and businesses know the crowds are coming so they plan for months in advance, ordering more food and supplies, as well as taking on a larger staff.
This weekend, with the opening ceremonies, shows the largest economic increase. But the entire area will continue to see higher revenues until the games end later this month.
The State Games of Mississippi is in its 23rd year. This year brings the largest number of sports ever at 37.
More than 5,000 athletes are participating.