More than fun and games: Masters Games make economic impact too

Published 8:30 am Friday, October 20, 2023

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The 2023 Masters Games of Alabama, held in Valley this year, has brought approximately 200-250 visitors into town, helping stimulate the city’s economy as well as its senior citizen program.

According to Valley Parks and Recreation Director Laurie Blount, the first year of the statewide event since 2019 has been a success. Though the numbers have decreased since the COVID-19 pandemic, the turnout was positive. Some new faces came out to participate.

“It’s been a good event. Our numbers are just a little bit down, I think, because of the four-year lull,” Blount said. “But a lot of people in Valley that have seen it said that they’re going to come back next year, and I’m sure our numbers will increase as we continue to do this again.”

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Lula Echols from Fairfield, Alabama, has been participating in the Masters Games since 2008. 

“I can’t speak well enough of everybody,” Echols said. 

The State Masters Games will be going from Oct. 16-19 at the Valley Sportsplex. Senior citizens from around the state compete in various sports and games together during the week. 

In addition to spending at local gas and food establishments, Blount said the group sold out the Quality Inn in Valley. 

“I guess the economic impact is the biggest reason we do it but the other reason is because we like it,” Blount said. “We like to do it. We like people to come to Valley and see our city and see our community center that we’re very proud of.”

Echols said she has always enjoyed visiting Valley for the Masters Games.

“I’m looking forward to coming back again,” Echols said. 

Blount said the main goal of the Masters Games is to encourage socialization and physical activity in senior citizens.

“We do it statewide to keep the senior citizens moving, keep them active,” Blount said. “Plus, it just gives them a lot of new friendships throughout the state.”

Thursday’s events included billiards, domino singles, table tennis, pickleball doubles, pickleball mixed doubles and women’s shuffleboard.