The Shreveport Bossier Sports Commission got the year off to a fast start, and it shows no sign of slowing down, Executive Director Kelly Wells told the Bossier City Council recently.

Wells said this year’s state high school wrestling meet at the CenturyLink Center saw record crowds and brought $1 million in economic impact to the Bossier-Shreveport area. He added that the state wrestling tournament will return next year before being put up for bid again.

“It’s great to have the economic impact,” Wells said. “But it’s also a great thing like on Saturday night when Mayor (Lo) Walker was there to see Parkway bring home the state team championship.”

Wells said about 160 volunteers worked on the state wrestling tournament through the weekend of the event. He also cited State Sen. Ryan Gatti and Fellowship of Christian Athletes director Terry Slack for their support, which included feeding 170 coaches during the event.

“We had a coaches tent set up behind CenturyLink Center,” he said. “It was another way to extend our hospitality to the coaches.”

Wells also updated the council on archery tournaments in the area, including the recent State tournament.

“The Regional and State we’ve had for the last two years,” Wells said. “We did secure that again for next year. Bossier Parish Schools do a phenomenal job.”

Wells said the Sports Commission advocates for the economic impact of events like the wrestling and archery tournaments bring to the area. To that end, the Sports Commission is partnering in the third annual Sports Biz Connect at 4 p.m. April 5 at the Hilton Garden Inn and Homewood Suites in Bossier City. This free events brings local sports associations, event and venues together to network. Other sponsors for the event include the Bossier Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce, the Shreveport Bossier African American Chamber of Commerce, the North Louisiana Economic Partnership and the Hilton Garden Inn.

“It’s kind of like a Chamber After Hours,” Wells said. “Everything from Strongman to Dixie (baseball) to you name it. We truly are a sportsman’s paradise. It’s really an opportunity to engage the business community and the sports community.”

Wells also said bass fishing tournaments are returning to Red River.

“We’ve got more national bass fishing tournaments lined up for this year than I think we’ve ever had.”

Those tournaments kick off April 2 with the ABA Ray Scott Championship. The Yeti FLW College Fishing Championship is set for May 30, including TV coverage on NBC Sports, Wells said. But fishing isn’t the only activity planned for the Red River.

“We’ll have the Powerboat Nationals coming up again Labor Day weekend,” Wells said. “It got canceled last year because of Hurricane Harvey, But we are super excited. We are going bring in even larger boats than what we had in the past.”

Wells said the Sports Commission is on pace to host about 150 events this year, compared to 134 last year.

“It’s about partnerships, the community getting on board,” Wells said. “We’re excited about the opportunities.”

For more information about the Sports Commission and its events, visit shreveportbossiersports.com

By Scott Anderson