The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia


July 17, 2014


W.Va. hospitality on display when the Saints come marching in

For White Sulphur Springs, there’s hardly enough time to catch a breath.

Fresh from the success of another Greenbrier Classic at the nearby resort, the city is now preparing for the National Football League’s New Orleans Saints to make an appearance.

And the city is doing everything it can to be ready for its second big opportunity of the summer.

“That’s new ground for us,” says Mayor Lloyd Haynes.

The Greenbrier owner Jim Justice sweet-talked the Saints into spending a good part of their pre-season training camp at the resort. To hold up his end of that bargain, Justice ordered and is overseeing the construction of new facilities and practice fields to accommodate the Saints.

White Sulphur Springs is doing its part as well.

Handling big crowds is nothing new for the city, what with the annual professional golf tournament.

But officials aren’t exactly sure about just how many or what kind of fans are going to arrive with the Saints.

Still, Haynes anticipates the city doing what it has to do to satisfy a new type of tourist to West Virginia: The NFL fan.

“With the traffic coming through town, there is a possibility for our downtown businesses to capitalize on the potential shoppers,” Haynes said.

The Spa City is also planning to run shuttle buses continuously throughout the day from a nearby parking lot to the resort.

In addition, White Sulphur Springs has donated some portable bleachers to be placed around The Greenbrier’s three new football practice fields.

Haynes and the rest of the residents of White Sulphur Springs are seasoned pros when it comes to catering to big crowds at big events.

We hope more places in southern West Virginia learn to show his town’s kind of confidence as we continue to pursue the successful marketing of our tourism opportunities in the region.

And the New Orleans Saints are certainly an opportunity to show off West Virginia.

West Virginia clearly impressed Duck Dynasty star Jase Robertson, who flew in from Louisiana to play in the Greenbrier Classic’s Pro-Am.

“I’m taking this all in,” he told The Register-Herald as he waited at the first tee. “It’s pretty amazing. I’ve been here five minutes, and I could live here. I love it.”

And that reaction is precisely why big events like the golf tournament and the Saints are so important as we work to make southern West Virginia a destination for all kinds of tourists.

Granted, it may take more than five minutes, since Mr. Robertson, as his fans know, is a quick study.

But the more people come to our state and the longer they stay, the more time they spend around West Virginians and see what we have to offer, the more they will keep coming back.

And bringing people back with them.

So for the coming month, we’re proud to have White Sulphur Springs carry the ball for us.

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