Tourism Brings Big Business to Rutherford County, TN
Whether headed to a convention or a youth sports tournament, travelers find what they're looking for in Rutherford County.
David Allison remembers when his hotel business colleagues asked, as he was about to move to Rutherford County, “Where in the world is Murfreesboro?” These days, they don’t ask that question. Rutherford County has emerged as one of the state’s busiest tourism markets – a boom with no signs of slowing down. Over the past 10 years, tourism has increased by 80 percent, according to the Rutherford County Convention and Visitors Bureau. In 2013 alone, the economic impact of tourism on the area was a whopping $291 million, a 6.8 percent increase over the previous year. A $6 million jump in revenue came from total hotel rooms sold in 2013, a total of 32,468 additional room nights and a 16.2 percent increase over the past two years – despite the fact that no new hotels opened that year.
New Hotels in Rutherford
“It’s been just nonstop action since I arrived here several years ago,” says Allison, general manager of the Hilton Garden Inn in Murfreesboro, and former general manager of the Hampton Inn here. “As I tell my guests, Murfreesboro is pretty much the center of the world. With all the growth in Middle Tennessee and all the interstates converging here, this is a great location to be in.” A bevy of new hotels paints a rosy picture for 2015. The 100-room Hilton Garden Inn opened in September 2014, next door to the 280-suite Embassy Suites and Conference Center in Murfreesboro. A new Residence Inn and a new Holiday Inn are set to open in early 2015. Several other hotels, among them a Candlewood Hotel in Smyrna and a TownePlace Suites hotel, are in the pipeline. With Nissan, Verizon, State Farm and other companies nearby, meetings, conferences and corporate travel are helping fuel the tourism boom, and the county was recently awarded the Readers’ Choice Award as one of the best meeting sites in the South by ConventionSouth.
Youth Sports Bring Visitors
Youth sports are another major tourism driver, so much so that the Rutherford CVB has successfully trademarked the county as “The Sports Capital of Tennessee.” “Because we are located in the center of the state, and within a day’s drive of 75 percent of the country’s population, we are able to host many state, regional and national events throughout the year,” says Barbara Wolke vice president of the Rutherford County CVB. “Rutherford County is an easy sell, with our sports facilities, hotels, 375 restaurants to delight every taste, shopping and lots to do. We have everything that visitors are looking for.” The county hosts numerous Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA) events annually, among them Spring Fling, an Olympic-style competition in five sports, which draws athletes, families and coaches from around the state. Soccer is a top sport in Rutherford County, where the 15-field Richard Siegel Park has hosted the U.S. Youth Soccer National President’s Cup and other large national, regional and state competitions. Barfield Crescent Park in Murfreesboro has attracted tournaments for the Baseball Players Association and Tennessee Youth Baseball Association. The county has also hosted the Under Armour Bash in the Boro, and tournaments for the United States Fastpitch Association, the American Blind Bowlers Association and the Tennessee Association of Vintage Base Ball. Special athletic activities have their own places here, too. Enthusiasts play foot golf – a cross between soccer and golf – at fields in Smyrna and Murfreesboro, and Bloomfield Links features a 6-hole course that caters to youth golfers. The city, in conjunction with Middle Tennessee State University, is constructing a 70,000-square-foot, eight-court indoor tennis facility at Old Fort Park, which will be home to MTSU tennis teams and also accommodate larger United States Tennis Association tournaments. The park also offers 15 outdoor courts. “Our philosophy has always been that we need to anticipate the growth of our community, but also be mindful of the fact that if we build a facility that will accommodate future growth as well as certain size state, regional and national tournaments, that is an added bonus,” says Murfreesboro Parks and Recreation Department Director Lanny Goodwin. “People love to come to Murfreesboro with their sporting events.” Find more things to do outdoors in Rutherford County, TN.