Junior Olympics Bring Millions of Dollars to Knoxville

By: Jim Freeman
By: Jim Freeman

Knoxville (WVLT) - It's a boom for the Knoxville economy every five years, and this is one of those years.

The numbers for this summer's AAU Junior Olympics are staggering.

Not only in the number of athletes, but also in the amount of dollars these games are expected to generate for the local economy.

Volunteer TV’s Jim Freeman crunched the numbers, and says we're talking millions of dollars, more than $30 million to be exact.

And that has local business owners excited.

"We've been doing this a long time 35-years to be exact. So we know what we're doing and we're very excited that they are here,” says Suzanne Lindsey, Director of Marketing for Buddy’s Barbecue.

Lots of businesses are glad they're here, too. They are the athletes and coaches with the 41st AAU Junior Olympic Games.

And along with families and fans, they'll be here over the next ten days.

Now, there are 25 times more athletes than in Knoxville's first games in 1968. The numbers are up by almost 4,000 from just five years ago.

"We're just thrilled to have 'em here,” Lindsey says.

There's good reason why the games come to our town.

"Our city and area is known as a great place to host youth athletics. And so, we're very proud of that representation and that's how we got into the five-city rotation,” says Mary Miltenberger, Commissioner of the Games.

That has local businesses like Buddy's Barbecue aiming for the gold as it really has to hustle when it comes to catering "and" its restaurants.

"When you look at it, you think how in the world can they do it? How can we keep all organized and not run over each other,” Lindsey says.

Seventeen-thousand athletes, even more fans and coaches, the estimated economic impact is expected to surpass $30-million.

And that adds up to bigger paychecks.

"We have a lot of part-time people that work in the summer anyway. But we've had to add extra people to handle the load for the Junior Olympics,” says Lindsey.

Looking at the schedule is enough to make you dizzy.

"It's chaos,” Lindsey says, “but it works."

That chaos spells big dollars for Buddy's and lots of other area businesses.

The games run through August fourth.

The Junior Olympics has had its share of athletes that went on to become Vols and Lady Vols including Chamique Holdsclaw and C.J. Watson.


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