August 13, 2013 10:05:57 AM
A flier believed distributed by a Mississippi State University volunteer rugby coach states an upcoming Southeastern Collegiate Rugby Conference tournament will be held Nov. 9-11 in Atlanta, Ga.
Randy Pannell, who last week criticized Mayor Parker Wiseman for perceived animosity with Starkville Parks Commission Chairman Dan Moreland, said Tuesday he would pull out of potentially hosting a Southeastern Conference rugby tournament and send its associated economic stimulation elsewhere if the mayor continued to criticize Moreland through the media.
It is believed Pannell left the fliers at the Dispatch's Starkville office and at the Greater Starkville Development Partnership Monday. The Dispatch also observed the same fliers placed in aldermen's document boxes within the mayor's office yesterday.
The Dispatch was unable to reach Pannell Monday for clarification. Calls to SCRC Commissioner James Farrar and Paul Ivey, the previous tournament's event director, went unreturned.
Pannell, who openly supported Moreland's work with the city's park system Tuesday, said he almost pulled out of the tournament negotiations last week because of the bickering between the two mayoral candidates from this year's election cycle.
Montgomery, Ala., previously hosted the tournament, he said, and received about $451,000 in business. The fliers indicate the Georgia tournament is the same type previously hosted in Alabama and provide no further information beyond the dates.
If Pannell's figures are correct -- about 800 guests spent almost $500,000 over Oct. 13-14, 2012 -- then each person who traveled to Montgomery, Ala. would have spent $563.75 in a weekend. Rates listed in the 2012 tournament package on the SCRC's website indicated about $70 per night for a room.
If Starkville received that same figure from out-of-town visitors on food, beverage and hotel sales, city governance would receive only $9,020 through the 2 percent tax.
"I have a chance here to do something good for the university's rugby team, but I'm tired of the bickering between you (Wiseman) and Dan," Pannell said Tuesday's public comment session.
"I almost pulled out today, Dan, because I'm so tired of you (Wiseman) getting on his butt for doing his job," he continued in the meeting. "So here's the deal I'm going to make with you, Parker - none of you other guys (the board of aldermen) are going to count. Parker, I guarantee you if you won't say one negative thing about Dan Moreland running that Sportsplex and you keep your little paper puppet over here in line (in reference to a Dispatch reporter) - no negative comments - this $451,000 will go into this city's account, will go right here. If you can't do that, I'll take it (and) we'll go to Tupelo. Is that clear?"
The university distanced itself from the situation Friday when MSU University Relations Director Sid Salter said Pannell, who is listed in as an advisor for the club, is not authorized to speak on behalf of the school.
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch
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