Monday, February 25, 2013
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Trojan Tournament continues to be a win-win for Lincoln

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[February 25, 2013]  This weekend hundreds of out-of-town guests poured into Lincoln to participate in the annual Trojan Basketball Tournament.

The tournament, which is put on by Lincoln Junior High School, attracts basketball teams from all over the state. The series of games began Saturday morning and wrapped up on Sunday evening. The competition included both boys' and girls' teams in age groups from third grade through eighth grade.

The Trojan Tournament was the inspiration of the late John Welsh when he was a member of the District 27 school board. After he retired from the board, the junior high school administration took over the event and has kept it going and growing since then.

The two-day event features nearly 200 basketball games that go on at nearly every school in Lincoln. On Saturday, games were played at Lincoln College, Carroll Catholic, Central School, Lincoln Junior High, Lincoln Community High School, Washington-Monroe and West Lincoln-Broadwell.

The concept behind the tournament was to provide more opportunities for sports for young people and at the same time to benefit the local schools. Funds raised from concessions sold during the tournament support parent-teacher organizations at the District 27 schools and the band's booster club at the high school.

In addition to doing something good for the students and the local schools, the tournament is a boost to the local economy at a slow time of year. With Christmas in the past and summer tourism still in the future, the winter months of January, February and March can be a bit depressing for area businesses, but the February tournament gives the local economy a little jolt right when it is needed.

Each competing team consists of approximately 10 members. When they come to town, many teams arrive with parents, grandparents, coaches and fans. These people travel to Lincoln to spend the night, eat in our restaurants and shop in our local stores.

The bracket-style tournament is scheduled in such a manner that teams play once or maybe twice in one day, and most play on both Saturday and Sunday. With the playing schedule, many families arrive in Lincoln on Friday night and stay over through Sunday, filling local motels two nights.

On Sunday, Amy at the front desk of the Hampton Inn said that all 64 of their rooms had been occupied by tournament-goers on Saturday night. She said the Hampton does offer a special rate for the tournament.

At the Holiday Inn Express, Missy said that of their 69 rooms, 68 had been booked on Saturday night, something she definitely attributed to the tournament. Missy also said the Holiday Inn offers discount pricing to attract tournament-goers to their establishment.

Down the street just a little way, the Super 8 also enjoyed a good night, with over 75 percent of their rooms booked.

Local eateries also benefited from the weekend.

At noontime on Saturday, families with kids in the games rushed to fast-food joints around town. The goal was quick, kid-friendly foods.

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At McDonald's on Lincoln Parkway, Tessa said that it had been pretty busy with dine-in and drive-thru business. She said the restaurant does offer free lunch to one coach and the bus driver when the team arrives on a bus.

At Culver's on the west end of town, owner and manager Elaine Awe said it had been a very good day on Saturday. She told LDN, "The tournament is always good for us."

Awe said the restaurant didn't offer any out of the usual specials for the tournament. They run daily specials regularly, and diners take good advantage of those.

Awe also noted that this year, Culver's has been sending their old-fashioned custard to the junior high as a fundraiser for the school, and that effort is going well also.

And, it wasn't all about fast food. Brett Borst of Bonanza said his restaurant saw an increase in both lunchtime and dinner guests on Saturday, and he expected to see the same on Sunday.

He said the restaurant doesn't run any specials; they just continue to serve their "exceptionally good food" and the diners come. He also commented: "It is really nice, though. Especially at the end of February when there's snow on the ground, it is really a blessing to have that extra business."

Retail businesses also saw an influx of visitors on Saturday, including some that might come as a surprise.

A person speaking for Kroger said on Saturday afternoon that the store saw several new faces: "We know most of our regular customers, and these folks were not our regulars. They were also shopping for convenient foods, and we heard some of them talking about what they could take to their room, so we knew they were out-of-town guests." The purchases made at Kroger included fresh fruits, pre-made items from the deli, snack foods, chips and soft drinks.

Recently, Alderwoman Marty Neitzel of the Lincoln City Council spoke about the sporting activities in Lincoln. In her comments she named the Lincoln Futbol Club and the Trojan Tournament, saying she was for anything that brought people to Lincoln, and sports is definitely something that will do that.

In the end, the Trojan Tournament is a win-win for almost everyone in the community. The students involved in the program are more physically fit and active. They learn good sportsmanship and how to interact with people from other places. The school organizations benefit from the added opportunities to have fundraisers, and local businesses benefit with the influx of traffic as well.



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