They came to play tennis, softball, baseball and soccer, and while doing so they helped boost the Tri-Cities' economy.
Last month, 12 sports tournaments drew more than 11,000 visitors to the area, generating almost $2.9 million in visitor spending.
Last week, about 400 kart racing enthusiasts were in the Tri-Cities for the International Kart Federation's 4-Cycle Sprint/Shifter Grand Nationals.
At a time when tourism in other parts of the state is either down or flat, the Tri-Cities is seeing growth, said Brent Herring, general manager at Cedars Inn & Suites in Kennewick.
All the Tri-City hotels were booked on Father's Day weekend, Herring said. "We had to refer guests to hotels in Prosser and Hermiston."
In July, seven sporting events are expected to bring almost 8,500 visitors to the community, generating more than $ 2.4 million in visitor spending.
"Sports organizers like the area because we're a family-friendly community," said Hector Cruz, sports development manager at the Tri-Cities Visitor & Convention Bureau.
They'll spend money on hotels, dining and shopping, Cruz said. The bureau uses an established formula to work out average visitor spending, he said. It's about $95 a day. "Our numbers are conservative."
The availability of great sporting facilities and nice weather has helped the Tri-Cities clinch many a deal, said Kris Watkins, president and CEO of the Tri-Cities Visitor & Convention Bureau.
Attracting sporting events and conventions is a competitive business, she said. The Tri-Cities has been able to get a lot of repeat business because the bureau, the local hospitality industry and city officials have worked in perfect tandem, she said. "We have a one-stop shop for sports organizers."
That partnership helps explain why the Tri-Cities is doing better than last year, she said, adding that the bureau's Tri-Cities Sports Council is a catalyst for growth. The council comprises representatives from local sports organizations, parks and recreation departments and high schools.
Some sports events have grown over the years, she said, referring to Triple Crown Sports' Father's Day Slugfest, which grew from 35 teams in 2007 to 135 teams this year.
In many cases, those who come to area to participate in sports often return to explore the Tri-Cities further, be it the wineries or the Columbia River or the open spaces, Watkins said.
Herring of Cedars Inn & Suites said local hoteliers keep each other informed of occupancy levels and direct potential guest elsewhere if needed. His hotel also partners with Applebee's to help his customers get a 10 percent discount at the restaurant.
The Tri-Cities has 3,437 guest rooms with the addition of 59 rooms at Cedars, which opened for business in March.
"We are a unique area which is experiencing a growth in hotel demand," Watkins said.