MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The city of Montgomery is hosting the Region 8 Regional Championships for girls gymnastics this weekend. It’s the first time the capital city has ever held the event.
North Carolina was the original host, but due to concerns over COVID-19 restrictions, the capital city was asked to hold the event this year.
Armory Athletics in Montgomery and Bama Bound in Tuscaloosa partnered this season to help out Region 8 and Kidsport Gymnastics in North Carolina.
The three-day competition will take place Friday-Sunday inside the Multiplex at Cramton Bowl. Over 260 teams from eight different states across the Southeast will be competing. That includes nearly 1,500 gymnasts and over 600 coaches.
Missy Anderson, director of Armory Athletics, said an event of this magnitude normally takes a year to prepare for.
“We’ve had about five months to prepare so lot of volunteers involved,” Anderson said. “The parks and rec here in the city of Montgomery has really helped us put this together, and it’s been exciting so that we can get doors open again and get the public out of their houses.”
“This is bringing eight different states here and it gives us an opportunity to get in the bid cycle for doing other regionals and nationals as well as really show our city off, our facility, and our program,” said Kay McCreery, director for Montgomery Parks and Recreation.
COVID-19 protocols will be in place for the event. Extra sets of bleachers have been added to the arena to promote social distancing, and masks are required to be worn by both athletes and guests.
“We want everybody to stay safe,” McCreery said. “We have folks that will be coming through sanitizing restrooms, our concessions areas. We’ll sanitize at night when this is over, and then they do sanitize. they wipe down the beams, wipe down the uneven parallels, on and on between every performer.”
The large influx of people coming to the city will also bring a big economic boost. McCreery said hotel rooms downtown have already been filling up.
“All of these people are going to buy gas, they’re renting cars, they’re coming into our airport, they’re buying food while they’re here,” McCreery said. “It’s a three-day event, has folks from eight different states so it will be a significant uptick we hope for our economy here in Montgomery.”
Armory Athletics and the city hopes that the success of this event will bring more success to future gymnastics events.
“We hope that in our regular Blue Gray competition in November that we can get people all over the nation to do,” Anderson said. “So this weekend we’re hoping to sell a meet that they’ve never been to here, so now maybe when we host our thing in November they’ll say, ‘Gosh, we really had a great time in Montgomery and we’ll come back,’ and that would help us in the long run.”
The regional competition kicks off Friday morning at 8 a.m. Tickets can be purchased at the door for $15. Seniors and students are $10. Kids 5 and under are free.