FORT MADISON, IA — The Fort Madison Tourism Commission is trying to diversify its efforts to spur tourism. Not only is the group pushing fishing tournaments, rodeos and hot air balloons, it has decided to throw a little money at disc golf.
The tourism commission made a $2,000 grant to the Old Fort Open Disc Golf Tournament.
“This is unprecedented,” said John Shaw, tournament director. “In the past, we have received $200 (from the city), but never this much.”
The commission added money for expenses and prize money. Shaw said the commission had offered matching funds up to $2,000, but once the tournament officials reached $1,000 the commission decided to make a $2,000 grant.
Shaw said funding also will be generated by corporate sponsors. The tournament will take place June 16 and June 17.
“This is a two-day tournament,” Shaw said. “One of the things the commission has been talking about is getting heads in beds.”
Shaw said since a two-day tournament will draw people in from farther distances they will not be able to go home after the first day and return for the second-day event.
“A lot of people will come to Fort Madison on Friday night making it a two-night stay,” Shaw said.
Speaking on behalf of the Fort Madison Tourism Commission, city manager Byron Smith said the members on the Tourism Commission think they can bank on the tournament to help tourism in Fort Madison.
“The commission feels like (the tournament) will really help put people in hotel rooms and we want to give the tournament director a chance to replenish the places he gets money from,” he said.
Smith said the commission will probably be willing to help the tournament for a short while to help it get on its feet.
“I think the commission will want to see them get their own sponsorship base going,” he said.
Shaw also spoke about the new disc golf course being built in Fort Madison.
“We were hoping to have it set up in time for the tournament, but we should have it in by next season,” Shaw said. “We will have to see how funding goes.”
Fort Madison is aiming high with their planned disc golf facilities.
“There are many cities that have multiple courses, but Fort Madison will be one where you can start on one hole and play 54 consecutive holes,” Shaw said.
In past years, the tournament was a C-tier event, not drawing many people. This year the tournament is a two-day event and is ranked a B tier.
Shaw said B tiers will draw higher quality players and more professional disc golf players. Next year, the tournament is planning on being ranked as an A tier.