Berthelot

Ben Berthelot, president and CEO of Lafayette Travel, speaks during a Friday morning press conference at the Youngsville Sports Complex.

The largest amateur boxing tournament in the country will be held in Youngsville this fall, and it could bring in much-needed revenue for the area over the next few years.

Acadiana leaders announced at a Friday morning press conference that Sugar Bert Boxing's national qualifier will be held Oct. 18-20 at the Youngsville Sports Complex.

The boxing tournament could soften the economic blow of Lafayette losing the Louisiana Gulf Coast Oil Exposition to New Orleans this year.

"When LAGCOE decided to move to New Orleans, we set out to fill that void," said Ben Berthelot, executive director and president of Lafayette Travel. "This won't necessarily have the same economic impact as LAGCOE did, but it will certainly help."

LAGCOE, a biennial event held in Lafayette for 65 years, was expected to bring in several thousand people who would have had $2.5 million economic impact during the three-day oil industry expo.

LAGCOE leaving Cajundome for New Orleans in 2019

The boxing tournament is expected to bring in about 500 boxers who are expected to have a $500,000 economic impact on the area during the three-day event. 

The Youngsville Sports Complex is mostly used for baseball, softball and soccer tournaments, but Youngsville Mayor Ken Ritter said a boxing event like this was exactly what the city's leaders hoped to host one day at the complex.

"At one point not that long ago, the Youngsville Sports Complex was really just a field of dreams," Ritter said. "We had 70 acres and leadership at that time that was determined to make the best use of it. We're honored to have this event here. We look forward to having many, many more events similar to this at the Youngsville Sports Complex and Rec Center."

Sugar Bert Boxing is expected to return to Acadiana in 2020 and 2021 for bigger events as part of a three-year contract with Lafayette Travel. Those events are expected to bring in 1,500 to 2,000 boxers for four to five days, and the tournaments will likely take place at the Cajundome instead of the Youngsville Sports Complex due to space requirements.

Lafayette Mayor-President Joel Robideaux said October's boxing event is an example of the CREATE — Culture, Recreation, Entertainment, Arts, Tourism and Economy — initiative in action at a time when Acadiana's oil-reliant economy is still sluggish.

"We need to focus on the assets that we have and the really good things and great things that Lafayette has," Robideaux said. "And that's where the CREATE initiative was born out of, and it's to focus on our cultural economy. And that includes — the R in CREATE is for recreation. Because any great community without the recreation component is not as great as it could be."

Acadiana Business Today: Acadiana Mall changes ownership amid struggling retail industry; After losing LAGCOE to New Orleans, Acadiana leaders plan boxing tournament to fill void


Follow Megan Wyatt on Twitter, @MeganWyattACA.