As Diane Kloster and two of her teammates stood in front of a boat rack getting ready to race, a country tune started playing over the sound system.
Being from Texas, the only proper response was to start a small line dance. So they did. They might be competing in the 2011 USRowing Masters National Championships on the Oklahoma River, but they still want to have fun.
“This has been like a vacation for me, absolutely,” said the 49-year-old from the Austin-based Texas Rowing Center, which brought 38 rowers to Oklahoma City.
“Just being able to get out of town, the rain alone has been a holiday. We've been racing and relaxing, having a few beers.”
During the four-day regatta, 876 rowers from 80 cities and 28 states came to compete for a piece of the 199 national titles on the line. And they are expected to leave a big chunk of their collective wallets behind.
According to Sue Hollenbeck, Assistant Director of Sports Business Development for the Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau, having the regatta at the Boathouse District this week will bring an estimated $1.7 million to $1.8 million to downtown businesses.
“They've been spending some money over the last couple of days,” Hollenbeck said of the athletes. “We calculate that the direct spending a day per person of the people coming in from out of town to be $216 and $65 a day for the people who live here or who are day-trippers.
“That's what they spend to eat out and stay.”
Hollenbeck said that between the athletes and their families, regatta staff and referees, the downtown hotels booked a total of 4,000 room nights.
“It's certainly not the biggest event to come to Oklahoma City, but it's a great event. We want to show off what we have here and we want to show off the Boathouse District,” she said.