Last year for Sun Belt in Hot Springs

    12:34 AM, Mar 10, 2013   |    comments
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    HOT SPRINGS, Ark. (KTHV) It's the last year the Spa City will host the Sun Belt Conference, which attracts thousands of fans every year.

    Michael Ashton considers himself a big UALR Lady Trojans fan, but he doesn't know if he'll be able to travel down to see his team in New Orleans where the Sun Belt Tournament will be held next year. The tournament has been held in Hot Springs for the last five years.

    "It hurts my feelings. It's easy to get to and back, especially when I have to work," said Ashton.

    It's a bittersweet day for Quincy Godbold a concession manager for Turf Catering and a basketball fan. He understands why the conference is moving.

    "It's not too far and a lot of the teams will probably be closer," said Goldbold. "Our convention center staff is great. Our sales team is great. They will probably make up some of it [money]."

    The impact of the Sun Belt Conference can be felt just a few blocks away from Summit Arena in downtown Hot Springs and going into some of the shops and restaurants.  Fans are in and out of Elizabeth Strawn-Jones' Star Gallery.

    "They're coming in and buying little things and big things from art to jewelry," said Strawn-Jones.

    Breaking up is hard to do, but with these changes, fans and business owners know they'll be just fine.

    "In the Sun Belt conference, there are only two Arkansas teams. It's a benefit for UALR, but for everybody else it might be closer to go to New Orleans," said Ashton.

    The Sun Belt's Associate Commissioner says the tournament is being moved to New Orleans because that's where the Sun Belt board is located. It also gives another city a chance to host the games.


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