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'Brought a ton of business our way': ESPN’s The Ocho brings big money to Rock Hill

The game usually associated with tailgates and cook-outs turns professional at the ACL Cornhole Championships.

ROCK HILL, S.C. — The American Cornhole League is hosting championships in Rock Hill this week, and the event is expected to bring more than $3 million to the city in direct economic impact. 

Passionate cornhole players from all over the country are at the Rock Hill Sports & Events Center, competing for cash prizes. It’s part of ESPN’s The Ocho, showing games you don’t normally get to see on TV on ESPN2.

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For many of the people playing, the game is more than a hobby. Ashley Ervin traveled with her family from Missouri to compete. She said they travel for cornhole tournaments almost every weekend. 

“Once we went to one tournament, then we were sucked in," Ervin said. "We did it ever since then. We travel all over everywhere playing.” 

ESPN is in town to broadcast the fun for 14 hours straight Friday. It's part of ESPN: The Ocho, which broadcasts game normally not seen on TV, including dodgeball and ax throwing. 

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This is the third year Rock Hill is hosting the ACL Cornhole Championships.

“When we bring events like that, obviously the hotel rooms are getting filled, people are eating out in restaurants," Mark Sexton with the City of Rock Hill said. 

The Cambria Hotel, which is just a few hundred feet away from the Rock Hill Sports and Events Center, said after the pandemic, the championship is a breath of fresh air for business. 

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“For a whole entire week, we’ve been averaging about 80-90% [capacity]," Kendale Kinlow, general manager at the Cambria Hotel, said, "Here on out, we're already at 100% for the remainder [of the week]."

Next door to the events center is Old Town Kitchen and Cocktails, a new restaurant that has been open for about a year. Partner and Chef Chris Coleman said it's been a great week for business. 

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“[It] brought a ton of business our way in this part of Rock Hill and we’ve been very, very appreciative of it," Coleman said. "We’ve been slammed. It’s been really, really good."

Contact Indira Eskieva at ieskieva@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.  

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