PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — About 1,800 gymnasts from across the United States are visiting Providence this week for the USA Gymnastics championships, and organizers expect the local economic impact to be in the millions.
The USA Gymnastics organization selects and trains national teams for the Olympic Games and other world championships. The organization is holding its national elite competitions at the Dunkin Donuts Center.
It adds up to 5,600 “room nights” spread out across seven Providence hotels for the event, according to Rhode Island Sports Commission executive director John Gibbons. Plus, money spent in restaurants — and any shopping or sightseeing the gymnasts do in between practice and competition.
6,000 people are estimated to be coming into Providence. Kristin Zullo, of Fort Myers, Florida, is here with her daughter who is competing and said it’s their first time visiting the Renaissance City. “It’s beautiful. Even our taxi driver was so nice! He was telling us all about the city and where to go eat and where to go visit,” she said.
“We estimate the direct spend of everybody, when they’re in the community, is going to be approximately $3.75 million,” said Gibbons. He hopes it’s the beginning of a long relationship with the USA Gymnastics organization: “They’ve got some other big events coming up in the next couple of years that we would like to be a part of.”
Providence will host the Region 6 Congress, a business meeting, for the organization later this summer, Gibbons added.
He also hopes this weekend’s visitors enjoy Rhode Island — and decide to return one day.
“It’s such a clean city, and it seems so well organized and easy to get around, and it’s just — I would come back here!” said Zullo.