Money magnet: DE Turf event gives a jolt to local economy

FREDERICA — The parking lot indicated a lot Saturday afternoon.

The first large scale event at the DE Turf Sports Complex attracted a ton of out-of-state license plates.

Of the first 100 vehicles seen in Lots A and B for the College Connection Shooting Star Tournament, just eight were from Delaware.

The other 92 came from Maryland, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Virginia, New York, Ohio, New Hampshire, Kentucky, Illinois, Maine, West Virginia and Ontario, Canada.

Just after the count stopped, Arkansas, Connecticut and Texas-registered automobiles were spotted nearby.

DETurfFirstDay8Eryn Ziegler folds her Long Strength t-shirts under the merchandise tent on the first day at De Turf on Friday. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

The visitors paid good money to be here and fueled the local economy with their hotel stays, meals, gasoline purchases and associated travel costs.

DETurfFirstDay6Field hockey players with family members wait for their next game on the first day at De Turf on Friday. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

The tradeoff was receiving an opportunity to play field hockey before more than 100 college coaches on the hunt for future recruits.

Nancy and Gary Toupin of Franklin, NH, have lunch with grand children, Riley, Ashlyn and McKayla in the parking lot on the second day at De Turf on Friday.

The Wallace family and Severna Park teammates arrived from Linthicum, Maryland on Friday, had early dinner at the Olive Garden in Dover and stayed at the Comfort Inn for a night.

After a workout session, the 14-player contingent returned to Dover, stopping at a 7-11 for snacks. One parent lightheartedly admitted stopping at a liquor store as well.

On the way to DE Turf the next morning, they bought breakfast at Dunkin Donuts.

With a concession stand providing “all you would need” Christa Wallace bought a protein pack which was quite good and “all the fruit was fresh.”

Canadian visitor Bernie Whitechurch traveled to see his two granddaughters compete. He planned to stay at Dover Downs Hotel and Casino on Saturday night.

Gaij Copes, left, and Jordyn Frieze work the busy consession stand on the first day at De Turf on Friday.

The Beaty family of Bel Air, Maryland, plans to spend two nights here for next year’s tournament, not just one.

“I like how accessible the fields are and how close it is to home,” Laurie Beaty said. “It’s nice that you don’t have to drive in and pay for parking.

Everything is convenient and close.”

Walking up to DE Turf after parking, Robin Connelly of Ocean Pines, Maryland, was struck by the wide-ranging crowd around her.

“When I saw license plates from New Hampshire and Kentucky, I was amazed. To have people come from so far told me this must be a really special sort of event.”

Choosing what to have for lunch was a treat, said Erin Mahaffey of Rising Sun, Maryland.

“The concession options are much more than just hamburgers, hot dogs and fries,” she said. “There were fancy salad items and flat breads, things you would expect to see at a nice restaurant.”

Most of license plates in the parking lot at De Turf are from of state of Delaware.

Driving back and forth from Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania, both days, Chuck Brosious did “my usual” and stopped at a Delaware Wawa. He’s followed his daughter’s travel teams to Palm Springs, California, Palm Beach, Florida, and Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and said DE Turf compared favorably.

“The best thing about being here is that it’s a lot more accessible than a lot of festivals that have 25 to 30 fields and you have to literally park miles away at times.

“I was pointed toward a field today, drove in that direction and was there in almost no time at all.”

Milford making plans

On Friday the Milford Chamber of Commerce was still planning to stuff gift bags donated by Bayhealth with a Milford map, 100-page Milford Quality of Life magazine and whatever else local businesses want to supply.

In the immediate aftermath of an open house and move to the former Windsor Hotel on Northeast Front Street, along with a recent Expo, Milford CCC wasn’t quite ready to distribute the goodies at this weekend’s tournament.

Moving forward, however,  the chamber figures to be front and center to greet DE Turf visitors.

“They’re saying 1,000 people minimum will be at events,” Ms. Schmeiser said. “When you have 1,000 visitors just five miles up the road from Milford that has to have some type of impact on the community.

We’re the closest city in the area and want to make sure folks arriving to DE Turf know what he have to offer.”

The Milford Chamber of Commerce has donated the scissors and ribbon for an official DE Turf opening ceremony at 10 a.m. on May 13 at the complex at 400 Bay Road.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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