THE NATIONAL bowls championships in Leamington provided a bigger boost to the local economy than expected.
The greens at Victoria Park have hosted the women’s championship for 30 years, but the men’s and women’s national championships were held back to back in the town for the first time last August.
And a review by Warwick District Council suggests the first double hosting of the championships over four weeks was worth some £2.1 million to the district economy – almost double initial estimates.
Coun John Hammon, district tourism and economic development spokesman, said: “It is an absolutely excellent achievement for the town.
“Not only did the event provide a huge boost economically, but it also brought a welcoming feeling to Leamington.
“I hope we can continue to help this event grow and do even better in the future.”
BID Leamington, which represents town centre businesses, said the double championships brought a welcome economic shot in the arm – particularly at a quieter trading time of the year when the schools were on holiday.
Even residents who had feared the two championships would bring a month of disruption appear to be happy with how the event went according to the review.
Campaign group Friends of Victoria Park has raised concerns over cars parking at Victoria Park and general disruption for residents and people using the park.
But council surveys suggest saw most residents report hardly any disruption to their day to day lives.
Tony Allcock, a former world bowls champion and now chief executive of Bowls England, said the championships were a great success.
Mr Allcock, who lives in Leamington, told The Observer: “It really was nice to see those who were visiting the bowls tournament venture into the town – and especially nice to see those in the town take a real interest into the national championships.
“Those who were worried that the tournament may have a big effect on them were quick to tell us afterwards how well they thought the event went.
“All of the problems we thought we would face were dismissed by residents and people who use the park regularly, which was nice to hear.
“We won’t have to make many changes to how we run things if we choose to hold the tournaments back to back again.
* COUNCIL officers have explored the option of converting Victoria Park’s old tennis courts into a new permanent car park.
The potential site could provide nearly 40 spaces, for visitors, tennis and bowls club users, and any overspill from Archery Road.
It would cost around £45,000 and officers are currently preparing a further report.