By Rob Ketcham
The Cullman Times
By almost every stretch of the imagination, Mike Tyrell loves the city of Cullman. From its nationally renowned Parks and Recreation Department to St. Bernard’s spacious campus to the community as a whole, there’s a lot for the Archery Shooters Association owner to like.
The ASA Classic, which began Thursday and will continue through Sunday, is closing the outfit’s season in Cullman for a second-straight year, and suffice to say, Tyrell and Co. are glad to be back.
“We’ve worked at a lot of communities and done a lot of things, and the Cullman Parks and Rec people are just going way above and beyond what we normally see as far as support, enthusiasm and energy,” the ASA’s main man said. “Anything we even think about needing, they do that and then more. You can’t ask for better people to work with.”
As pleasant as his return trip to Cullman has already proven to be, not all was hunky dory with Tyrell on Thursday. He said the only problem the ASA’s encountered so far this week is reports of hotels not honoring their reservation prices, or in some cases, cancelling reservations altogether.
Tyrell shared those concerns with the Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce and its newly formed tourism board early Thursday evening. He said he doesn’t plan to comment further on the matter until discussions progress and more hard evidence is brought to the table.
“I think it’s just a credibility thing, and hopefully we can get that worked out because that would be kind of a death knell to an event,” Tyrell said. “I’d hate to see the event start to lose attendance just because the hotels are trying to take advantage. That’s our sore spot right now.”
Tyrell said a similar situation resulted in a dropoff of participation at the ASA’s Texas tournament in late April. Aside from that instance, the owner said the association has enjoyed a 10-percent bump at four of its six stops this season. By the end of the weekend, he’s hoping that rate reads five of seven.
According to local Holiday Inn Express general manager Michelle Choisser, she had not heard of any complaints regarding confirmed reservations not being honored. Choisser, a member of the Cullman Hospitality Organization, said her place of business does not partake in those practices and reiterated how the cost of a room is generally determined.
“Our prices are 100 percent dependent on the demand of the market,” she said. “It really has nothing to do with the specific event. The entire hotel industry worldwide is based on demand.”
The 2012 ASA Classic seemingly went off without a hitch, but Tyrell did say a few changes have been made for the second go-round. There are now shuttles that frequently run to make things easier on archers and spectators, and a new range was added to accommodate the expected boost in competitors.
Even all the rain that hit the area over the last few days couldn’t dampen Tyrell’s spirits. The sponsor’s village was still a bit of a “mud bowl” on Thursday afternoon, but workers were quickly on it, laying out hay to try and provide as much traction as possible.
Cullman Parks and Rec is in the second of a three-year deal with the ASA for hosting rights to the Classic. Earlier this week, director John Hunt expressed his interest in furthering that partnership well past 2014, a possibility Tyrell was attuned with during the tournament’s first-day festivities.
“If we can work out the hotel situation to the satisfaction of everybody, I don’t have a problem extending the agreement,” the owner said. “People enjoy the ranges. They enjoy the facilities. St. Bernard is doing a great job. Their people are just on top of everything for us, too. We couldn’t ask for any better support from all aspects and have facilities that work so well for us.”
Tyrell’s only other concern lies with St. Bernard’s schedule, which is based on the school year. The ASA’s schedule, on the other hand, is set according to its competition calendar.
“So long as we can make sure our dates don’t conflict, we have no problem extending the contract and being here for several years to come,” Tyrell said.
% Rob Ketcham can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 138 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.