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Southern Miss’ postseason run brings economic boost to Hattiesburg

Hattiesburg has earned the triple crown of hosting postseason baseball for the first time- a feat that has brought unexpected economic benefits to the city and Southern Miss Athletics.

In a couple of weeks, Pete Taylor Park has hosted the Conference USA Tournament, the Hattiesburg Regional, and now, the Super Regionals in Hattiesburg.

Southern Miss had hosted the regionals twice before in program history, but has never hosted a super-regional before.

The alignment of all three tournaments happening in Hattiesburg during the same season is a situation Southern Miss has never seen before.

“This month, with the two tournaments we’ve had and combined with this one [Super Regional], we’re looking at $21 million combined in economic impact in these three weekends,” Visit Hattiesburg CEO and Executive Director Marlo Dorsey said.

To put it into perspective, Southern Miss has hosted 14 programs and their fans for 21 games across the conference tournament and regionals. The Super Regional will add Ole Miss with two, or possibly three, more matches to that tally.

Dorsey says that the Hattiesburg Super Regional is expected to impact the city’s economy the most out of the three tournaments. 

With hotels full across the city at an average of $150 a night and guests needing amenities, every business sector in the city will have their hands full this weekend accommodating the influx of fans.

Dorsey says that the tournaments have caused an appreciated boost to businesses in Hattiesburg, especially coming off the tail of COVID-19’s detrimental impact on tourism to the city.

“Our hospitality partners are really excited to be a part of this historical time. We’re coming off two years of limitations on gathering…It’s just great to be back to normal now and have the third weekend of a very full, happy community.”

The impact is also visible at Pete Taylor Park, which averaged some of the highest attendance numbers during the NCAA Regionals and will continue to post high numbers despite high demand and steep ticket prices this weekend.

25,736 fans attended Southern Miss’ five games in the Hattiesburg Regional, with game averages ranking near the top five in the nation.

“There’s no other state that loves baseball more than Mississippi,” Head Coach Scott Berry said after Southern Miss’ final win against LSU. “You look at total attendance for all three schools in our state versus the big three schools in any other state, and it’s not even close. This state is passionate about baseball.”

While Southern Miss Athletics has no ticket listing on their website for the Hattiesburg Super Regional, ticket resale and exchange websites show that the park is nearing total capacity.

With few seats remaining, tickets have skyrocketed. Tickets on Stub Hub are starting at $465 for Row 15 seats to get into game one as of June 9.

But Dorsey says there is something even more impactful without a direct price tag that these tournaments have brought to the city and program.

“The only thing we can’t qualify is the invaluable exposure that Southern Miss and Hattiesburg will receive from being broadcast on ESPN. People learning about Hattiesburg will really influence people who have never been and pique their interest to come,” Dorsey said. “We know that ESPN has a huge viewership and for these games to continue to be shown at a national level gives people an opportunity to see Hattiesburg and what we are about.”

Last year, the Men’s College World Series averaged 755,000 viewers on ESPN, with a tournament-high of 1.67 million viewers in the final championship match, according to Sports Media Watch.

The Hattiesburg Super Regional starts  Saturday, June 11 at 3 p.m. on ESPNU, followed by a Sunday matchup at 3 p.m., with a third game hosted Monday if necessary.