MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - About $10 million is coming in to the city of Memphis and it's all thanks to a card game.
People from all over the world are in Memphis to play in the American Contract Bridge League's World Championship Tournament. It's the first time Memphis is hosting this event. It started on Thursday, March 15 and goes until Sunday, March 25.
Bridge players tell abc24.com they want to see Graceland, eat barbecue, and they love southern hospitality.
"Probably not too much shopping but lots of eating and lots of bridge playing,” said bridge player Bruce Houston from Virginia.
“I want to see Elvis's place. I have to go to Graceland and see Elvis and then we want to find lots of good restaurants to eat at,” said another player, Janise Saul from San Antonio, Texas.
That's what more than 4,000 bridge players want to do when they have a chance to put their cards away.
"We figure it's probably bringing in about $10 million dollars to the city and the city is glad to have us,” said ACBL Director of Operations Jeff Johnston.
Business is so good, a manager at Cockadoos restaurant lost her voice.
“It's been so busy and I've been yelling orders for 2 days straight now so I have no voice but we've had a very good turnout,” said Cockadoos manager Casey Herring. “Hundreds and hundreds of people came in today. We fed a lot of people breakfast!”
Restaurants aren’t the only ones cashing in. At least seven hotels were booked solid, like the Marriott.
"They filled this one up so there wasn’t any more room for bridge players, so they're spread out now,” said Saul.
Bridge players shopped, checked out museums, and walked downtown enjoying landmarks like the river, but they also saw the eye sores like huge vacant buildings.
"I can see the American economy is down in the toilet and you walk down and there’s a lot of vacant buildings. You can tell that the small business people are really suffering,” noted one bridge player from Japan, Mihoko Chambers.
Chambers says Memphians are friendly, at least most of them.
"A friend of mine was walking down on Main Street and he got robbed the first day,” Chambers told abc24.com.
Tournament organizers say it took 7 years to plan this huge event in Memphis. More people arrived Sunday eager to play and ready to explore the Mid-South.
"The people here are so nice. I hate to go to a place like New York or Pairs or London, a bunch of snobs,” said Chambers.
The American Contract Bridge League is headquartered in Horn Lake, Mississippi and this year marks their 75th anniversary. There's word that Bill Gates and Warren Buffet may make an appearance at the tournament.