FOLEY, Ala — Following the organization’s most successful tournament event in history with its inaugural 2016 edition in the City of Foley, ASA Archery has signed an extension to keep the Alabama Pro/Am at that location for the next five years.
ASA is the national Archery Shooters Association, which stages an annual tour of six major tournaments across the country.
The woodland venue at the City of Foley’s Graham Creek Nature Preserve drew the largest field of competitors in ASA’s records, attracting 1,927 registered archery shooters. Visitors were on hand from at least 30 U.S. states and as far away as Great Britain.
Tournament planners and co-hosts were Foley Sports Tourism, whose mega-facility tournament complex of outdoor sports fields is located a short distance up Foley Beach Express from Graham Creek Preserve. The Foley Sports Tourism Complex is set to officially open over Memorial Day weekend with a major youth soccer tournament.
The four-day ASA tournament in Foley took place Feb. 25-28 (2016). Tournament officials, event sponsors, vendors and participants began arriving early that week. Many competitors wanted a few days before the tournament to check out the archery ranges and the park setup.
It was evident early on that registration for the Graham Creek event may push ASA’s all-time record. By the weekend, it was apparent that both the organizers and participants loved the experience in Foley and would be interested in making the venue an annual Pro/Am tour stop. ASA President Mike Tyrell said during the event, “This is the best tournament we’ve ever had. (Foley Sports Tourism Director) Don Staley and (Graham Creek Preserve Manager) Leslie Gahagan are the most professional and prepared on-site managers we’ve ever dealt with.”
Staley said, “We’re thrilled to have ASA back here for an extended run of their Pro/Am event. Foley’s very first tournament of this sort was a tremendous success for us, and for them. To see the friendly interaction of these athletes and families, in our restaurants, hotels and stores all over town, was just as gratifying as the record-setting Pro/Am turnout.”
“Naturally, there is always a learning curve for a few improvements and tweaks with any first-time event,” Staley added. “We expect the event to maintain this level of success, if not even grow, over these upcoming five years.”
Estimated economic impact in the region was projected at $2.1 million, which city officials feel certain was surpassed with this first-time event for Foley. Tournament traffic brought brisk lodging business during an otherwise sleepy “offseason” week in February. From vacation rentals at the beach to Foley’s hotels, occupancy increases were notable.
The retail impact was equally felt. From overflow crowds at area restaurants to family shopping at Tanger Outlets to lines for boot purchases at Foley’s Mossy Oak store, the record tournament turnout boosted commerce throughout the area.
Restaurant owner Char Haber of Foley’s Wolf Bay Lodge said, “We saw the impact start early in the week as the archers were arriving with their families. We saw overflow restaurant traffic here through that weekend. And what a nice group of friendly folks they all were. We’re glad to have them all back here in Foley for another five years.”
Foley Mayor John Koniar echoed the sentiment about welcoming back the participants and families. “We are very excited to have the ASA Archery tourney returning to Foley. They brought high quality people to our area to enjoy our facilities. With ages ranging from eight to eighty, and with international participants, they were a pleasure to host,” said Mayor Koniar.
Gahagan, who serves as the city’s Environmental Manager as well as manager of the 500-acre Graham Creek Preserve, said, “ASA brought an amazing tournament to Foley. We are very excited to bring the tournament back for five more years. Archers enjoyed the facilities at Graham Creek, even with some mud. Next year we anticipate an even better tournament due to the completion of the Interpretive Center and completion of the new Philomene Holmes Blvd. access to the facility.”
ASA will finalize dates for the 2017 Alabama Pro/Am in Foley at the conclusion of this tournament season late this summer.