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Cookeville Needs More Hotel Rooms As Tourism, Athletic Events Surge

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Cookeville Needs More Hotel Rooms As Tourism, Athletic Events Surge

Spikes in conferences and sports tourism have left Cookeville in need of more hotel space.

Cookeville-Putnam County Visitors Bureau Director Of Tourism Shan Stout said Putnam County has hosted some 15,000 athletes for weekend tournaments this year. That number is triple the amount in 2022 and has pushed hotels to capacity most weekends.

“When we have 4,000, 7,000 athletes in one weekend come to Putnam County, you can imagine, when you only have 1,700 rooms to draw from, then you have a bit of a problem,” Stout said. “You’re maxing out your capacity in these events.”

Stout said the county has had to use Airbnb partners for overflow several times this year. Stout said the addition of the Holiday Inn in 2022, and the Home2 Inn earlier this month has been a nice first step. She said the community could likely support two or three more hotels.

Stout said getting a hotel in place around the new Expo Center at the Tennessee Avenue Fairgrounds facility is a major goal. She said it would be a game-changer.

“With the convention center coming and that leading to conferences being able to come to the area in a big way, that’s been a barrier for us,” Stout said. “We do not have a convention center that is connected near a hotel.”

Stout said the new convention center will cause a major jump in hotel needs on weekdays.

Stout said many of the visitors are from out of the state, and even out of the country. Stout said Cookeville hosted the Jim Beam International Softball Tournament and a Chuckwagon Festival last year, both of which filled every available room the city had to offer.

“That’s bringing people that have to have a place to stay,” Stout said. “These are not people that are driving in for the day, doing a tournament, and going back home. They’re having to have lodging. We’re seeing this more and more, and we’re actually accepting more of these tournaments and these events, so that need is growing.”

She said agrotourism is on the rise as the new fairgrounds get closer to completion as well.

Stout said more people are learning that Cookeville has many similar amenities to Nashville and Knoxville, without the traffic and congestion. She said more people being drawn to the area is a positive, but the city will have to continue finding ways to house those visitors to reap the benefits.


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