SIOUX CITY, Iowa — If you have driven around Singing Hills on any given weekend recently, you might notice a lot more traffic than in months past.
Part of that is due to a new youth sports facility, and it's having a positive impact on local businesses.
"It was amazing just to see the atmosphere as far as the number of kids in basketball uniforms running around with their families," said Justine Sponder, sales and growth manager at Chick-fil-A on Sergeant Road. "That visual for me was really powerful because that says, they're here. They are being in the economy. They are coming out and seeing what Sioux City has to offer."
Local restaurants in Sioux City, especially in Singing Hills, have seen a boost in sales and patrons over the last four months.
"Our economy is booming from it," said Kendra Wood, manager at Wheelhouse, which sits in the same shopping complex as the sports academy. "I talked to a few other restaurant managers that are over in Lakeport Commons and they are just seeing growth, major growth."
Even businesses outside the Singing Hills area are seeing a growth in business on the weekends.
"It seems like every month we are getting more and more new people along with out of towners coming into town and enjoying what Sioux City has," Eric Martin, who created Marto Brewing said.
The boost in business for local restaurants like Marto Brewing Co. can be attributed to a number of things, but they all have one component in common: The Arena Sports Academy.
Hundreds of people from across Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and beyond have been making their way to Sioux City over the past four months to attend youth sports tournaments at The Arena Sports Academy, which opened up in December of 2019.
During each tournament weekend, their parking lot has been filled with people, most of them looking for somewhere to chow down.
"We opened up with an 80 team youth basketball tournament and have kind of hit the ground running and we haven't looked back since then," said The Arena's Dustin Cooper.
One important item for the team behind The Arena, is their work with the businesses around them.
"It was always our mission to pick a location that had the most impact, not only on the youth in our community but also on businesses in our community," The Arena's Jeff Carlson said.
"People from the area that are coming into town, not only to shop but to participate in these events like The Arena has and other organizations do in town, and it just brings people out and lets them see what Sioux City has to offer," said Sergeant Road Chick-fil-A owner, Chad Eisenga.
Chesterman Company has also witnessed the growth firsthand with their customers around Sioux City.
"I think we've seen growth in all categories basically around the area," said Chesterman's Jerry Pederson. "All of the other businesses that we service around the area, everyone is seeing lots of extra growth and it's been very good for the community."
For Cooper and Carlson and the rest of The Arena team, they hope to continue to work with local business owners to help boost Sioux City up along the way.
"We want to be the tip of the sword for Sioux City. We want to go out there and we want to draw people to our area because I think sometimes, Sioux City is a little misrepresented a little bit," Cooper said. "There are flyover states, we are kind of a drive-by city, not anymore, we're not."
"We want people to leave thinking, 'Wow, that was Sioux City? We're coming back.' And that is always our mission," Carlson said. "The experience doesn't stop when they leave The Arena. We want to ensure that the entire weekend that they are here, they are getting the best thT Sioux City has to offer, and our business leaders and partners have really brought it."
For more on The Arena, visit their Facebook Page and website.
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