Make us your home page
Instagram

Skaters, fans and dollars roll into Pasco for regional competition

Caroline Bell, 14, center, waits while coach Melissa Quinn, 31, left, adjusts her costume while Kaitlyn Shaw, 8, and Jan LeGassick, 37, look on Friday at Spinnations Family Roller Center in Port Richey. Bell, Shaw and LeGassick will compete in the Southern Regional Roller Skating Championship at the rink.

KERI WIGINTON | Times

Caroline Bell, 14, center, waits while coach Melissa Quinn, 31, left, adjusts her costume while Kaitlyn Shaw, 8, and Jan LeGassick, 37, look on Friday at Spinnations Family Roller Center in Port Richey. Bell, Shaw and LeGassick will compete in the Southern Regional Roller Skating Championship at the rink.

PORT RICHEY — The tourists return today, in search of a purple and yellow building where gum is forbidden, sweatbands are popular and Hannah Montana stickers are available.

Area hotels, rejoice: The roller skaters are back.

Believe it or not, the Southern Region Roller Skating Championship competitions, held at Spinnations on Congress Street, pull in more out-of-towners to local hotels than all the better-known events in the county.

In the past four years, the speed and figure skating competitions have attracted nearly 750 people each year who spent the nights in Pasco hotels.

Contrast that with Chasco Fiesta, which counted roughly 150, and the San Antonio Rattlesnake Festival, which reported 115.

Only Volkswagen lovers can compete with the skaters: The annual Bug Jam in Dade City reported slightly more than 700 overnight visitors.

Hotel guests are a key piece of the tourism picture: Not only do they spend their dollars in local establishments, but they also pay the "bed tax" used to promote Pasco and build amenities to attract more tourists.

Pasco tourist officials track the hotel registrations associated with roughly 20 events receiving a total of $75,000 in county marketing grants. The Southern Region Roller Skating Tournament got a $5,864 grant.

In some ways, the tournament's place at the top of the county list shouldn't be too surprising. It is a must-do for the skaters in seven Southeastern states who want to attend the national championship.

"This is a major stepping stone for those participants," said Pasco tourism coordinator Eric Keaton.

Officials putting on the roller skating tournament have also devised a good way of counting how many of their participants are staying at the hotels. Angela Serini, the event coordinator, said all of the skaters are asked at registration to fill out cards saying where they are staying and how many guests are staying with them.

To help substantiate the figures, she also sends out letters to participants a few weeks before the event, asking them to register in advance and let the hotels know they are attending the tournament. She then checks her figures with the hotels' tallies.

Serini said the tournament is a boon for other local businesses, too: Organizers use a local printer, a local photographer and a local florist. (First-place winners get carnations.)

"We generate a lot of business for local restaurants, as all of these out-of-towners have to eat somewhere," she said.

Among roller skating rink owners, Southern Region Roller Skating Championship is a big deal.

The rinks must meet qualifications — certain floor size and number of hotels nearby, for instance — before they bid on the event, said Spinnations co-owner Rhoda Balay.

Geography also plays a part, said Serini: Most of the skating clubs in the Southeast are in Florida, making the state the most likely host. And within Florida, Pasco is centrally located.

Balay and her husband, Jim, renovated the rink shortly after buying it a decade ago. They put in coaches' offices, locker rooms, new air conditioning and a new $35,000 hardwood floor.

A former competitive roller skater, Balay said she knew from the beginning that she wanted to host the event.

"I always wanted it," she said. "It's the prestige."

Jodie Tillman can be reached at jtillman@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6247.

>>If you go

See the skaters

Southern Region Roller Skating Championship's figure skating competition will be held at Spinnations, at 8345 Congress St. in Port Richey. Events run today, Sunday and Monday. Speed skating events were held last month. Admission is $5 per session. For information, call Spinnations at (727) 847-4336.

Skaters, fans and dollars roll into Pasco for regional competition 06/13/08 [Last modified: Friday, June 13, 2008 9:26pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. As Dow hits new high, Raymond James Financial reports record financial gains

    Banking

    On the same day that the Dow closed at new highs, investment firm Raymond James Financial reported record revenues and earnings for its fiscal third quarter that ended June 30.

    Raymond James Financial CEO Paul Reilly unveiled record quarterly revenues and earnings for the St. Petersburg-based investment firm. [Courtesy of Raymond James Financial]
  2. Florida GDP growth in first quarter 2017 ranks 21st among states, still outpacing U.S.

    Economic Development

    Florida's gross domestic product or GDP rose 1.4 percent in the first quarter, slightly faster than the nation's growth of 1.2 percent and placing Florida 21st among the states for growth rates, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

    Not too hot. Not too cold.

    These Jackson Square Townhomes began hitting the west Hillsborough County market late last year and continued to be sold into the first quarter of 2017. The real estate sector was the biggest driver of Florida's gross domestic product, which rose 1.4 percent in the first quartrer of 2017.  [JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times]
  3. A new app will help you find your favorite Tampa Bay food trucks

    Food & Dining

    What's new: Food tech

    Local food businesses are embracing new technologies and partnerships to bring us extra deliciousness.

    Michael Blasco of Tampa Bay Food Trucks says that everyone always asked about an app to help find their favorite food trucks. There is, available for iPhones and Droids.
  4. Another Pinellas foreclosure auction fools bidders, raises questions

    Real Estate

    For the second time in six weeks, a company connected to lawyer Roy C. Skelton stood poised to profit from a Pinellas County foreclosure auction that confused even experienced real estate investors.

    A Palm Harbor company bid  $112,300 for  this Largo townhome at a foreclosure auction July 21 not realizing the auction involved a second mortgage, connected to lawyer and  real estate investor Roy Skelton -- and that the bank could still foreclose on the  first mortgage.
[SUSAN TAYLOR MARTIN   |   Times]
  5. Clearwater-based USAmeriBank acquired by New Jersey bank in $816 million deal

    Banking

    CLEARWATER — USAmeriBancorp, Inc., based in Clearwater, is being acquired by New Jersey's Valley National Bancorp in an $816 million deal, it was announced today.

    Joe Chillura, CEO of USAmeribank, shown inside a branch in Ybor City in this file photo.
[KATHLEEN FLYNN l Times]