Large sporting events fill city's calendar | News

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Large sporting events fill city's calendar
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Davis Cup tennis matches this weekend was the start of a busy February in Jacksonville, in which thousands of visitors are expected to flock to the city and spend money.

Visitors from 36 states were in Jacksonville for this weekend's Davis Cup tennis matches at the Veterans Memorial Arena.

Carole Grunow and her friend Kelly Lagman came from Wisconsin to attend the Davis Cup, soaking in the rays of sunshine before Sunday's match. She says the city is "neat".

"I had a great time, had wonderful food, great tennis, here with a good friend, what more can I say," she said. "The river is beautiful; we were on the river taxi Saturday. I like the city, and enjoyed it."

"Love it on the river, this is just beautiful," said Miriam Rutz, visiting from San Diego with her husband to take in the tennis.  "And the stadium is great inside, so it is a lot of fun."

It doesn't stop at tennis. Later this month EverBank Field will host the U.S. Women's Soccer Team, a major league soccer game and a lacrosse classic. Add the 26.2 with Donna marathon and thousands of visitors make their way to Jacksonville.

That is good news for General Manager Paul Glaser at Fion McCool's at the Landing.

"I am looking very much forward to February, we have already booked several events, parties from people that are out of town, and people that are here in town that are bringing other clients into town," Glaser said.

The Hyatt hotel is booked to capacity for 20 of the 28 days in February. "That puts a big smile on my face, no doubt about it," said Glaser.

So too for taxi driver Michelle Diluca, who calls her taxi "Miss Pink". She looks forward to being busy and being an ambassador for the city.

"It is really exciting for us, we are looking forward to the opportunity, Jacksonville has become a very vibrant city, a lot of opportunity, and a lot of things coming here, all of a sudden we are getting a lot of exposure," Diluca said.

Mayor Alvin Brown attended the tennis matches all three days and is excited about his administration being able to bring in these top sports events to put to use the city's venues.

"What it shows is we can be a destination, with people from all over the world, enjoying what we are doing here," he said. "I am excited about it and the best is yet to come."

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