NORTH LITTLE ROCK — Site selection for various state and regional tournaments by the Arkansas Activities Association often goes beyond the fields of play and sometimes transcends into comical one-upmanship.
Particularly for schools in smaller communities, many of whom have built new arenas or updated current ones, hosting a regional or state tournament is a big deal. The tourneys bring thousands of dollars into the communities in a week.
The AAA executive board awarded bids Thursday for spring and fall hosts sites.
A few givens:
Every bidder has facilities that meet specifications for a host.
Every bidder offers adequate security.
Everybody has good parking.
Every school offers a hospitality room “second to none,” with boasting of such fare as barbecue nachos, catfish and grandma’s chicken and dumplins.
So, in making their three-minute presentations, school representatives often dig deep for the unique, the sublime and the jocular. They toss staff on the wall to see what sticks with the board.
Many, particularly for the gold mine of basketball tournaments, go all out. For example, representatives of Nashville, long known as a football and baseball school, passed out a hard-bound folder of one of Arkansas’ newest and nicest arenas with a pullout and foldable color centerfold that was a panoramic picture of the facility. “You do realize this is basketball you’re bidding on?” one member teased Nashville AD Doug Graham.
During Thursday’s session, here are some of the pitches from school officials for basketball, softball, baseball and other tournaments:
From Heber Springs: “We have mountains, lakes and green forests.”
From Heber Springs on a bid for a baseball tournament: “At that time of year, we have no mosquitoes.” “We don’t either,” countered Lonoke’s representative.
From Mountain Home: “We have two lakes and the bass fishing is really good.”
From Siloam Springs: “We are across the street from a regional hospital and Walmart is just down the street.”
From El Dorado: “We have a great downtown and shopping.”
From Piggott: Tours of the Hemingway-Pfeiffer museum.
From Charleston: “We’re 15 minutes from the best Indian casino in Oklahoma.”
From Hillcrest: “The best barbecue and barbecue nachos you can eat.”
From Manila: “An elderly lady woman in town asked me to be sure to mention cakes and pies.”
From Mountain View: “We might even teach you to pick and grin a little.”
From Monticello: “We have a six-screen movie theater, a good bowling alley and Lake Monticello with Florida largemouth bass.”
From Black Rock: “You haven’t eaten my 80-year-old mother’s chicken and dumplins yet.”
From Marmaduke: “We don’t call it an arena; it’s just a gym.”
From Siloam Springs: “I need some sympathy. It’s my wife’s birthday and I’m here.”
From Benton Harmony Grove: “Our women’s bathroom has 20 stalls (he got the bid).”
From Izard County Consolidated: “We have bathrooms and concession stands on each end so you can go to the restroom, get popcorn and not have to fight crowds getting to the other side.”
“We have Internet and all that crap.”
(Sports columnist David McCollum can be reached at 501-505-1235 or firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on twitter @dmaclcd)