Houston will be on display on the world stage this weekend. All of the attention is adding up to quite a nice bonus for the Bayou City.
Two massive events will be one major money maker for Houston. Of course, I'm talking about the pre-world cup rugby match-up between the USA and Italy. That is going down here in Houston tomorrow. Thousands are also in town for Pride Week and the big finale this weekend the gay pride parade.
"We're expecting a little over 350,000 this year," says Pride president Frankie Quijano. That's compared to 300,000 people last year.
"We do anticipate there are more travelers coming to Houston which, of course, would have a positive impact on the economy," says Pride vice president Javier Ramirez.
"It's our big gay hoorah. It's our festival and parade," smiles Quijano.
Pride participants are coming from all over the country.
"Louisiana, Oklahoma, San Antonio, Austin, Dallas. We have the largest LGBT celebration in the Southwest United States," adds Quijano.
"Most recently with (President) Obama coming out and making a positive statement about the LGBT community, that clearly has a positive affect," says Ramirez.
"Specifically in the Montrose area, this is one of their busiest weekends, if not the busiest weekend, especially for the gay bars," says A.J. Mistretta with the Greater Houston Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Thousands also already have tickets to see the U.S. Rugby Men's National Team take on Italy.
"We are expecting quite a crowd. Somewhere between 15 and 17 thousand people," says BBVA Compass Stadium General Manager Doug Hall.
"It is the most searched item on our website right now," says Mistretta. "I think rugby is the fastest growing team sport in America," says U.S. rugby player Todd Clever.
"Because I think they love the spirit of this game," adds Italian player Martin Castrogiovanni.
Many sports fans are considering this a re-match after the Italian Blues beat up on the American Eagles in September 2011 in New Zealand. Now the U.S. has home field advantage at the new BBVA Compass Stadium, home of the Dynamo.
"It's our first non-soccer event at the stadium," says Hall.
"It's a beautiful stadium. Houston always does things well, sports, events, whatever. We're going to have a big crowd," says U.S. Men's Rugby Head Coack Mike Tolkin.
Many in that big crowd and the one from pride are spending plenty in the Bayou City.
"The hotels are benefitting, the restaurants are benefitting. You're going to see pictures from this match, the rugby match, all over the world. It shows Houston is a player," says Mistretta.
The gay pride festival kicks off Saturday afternoon at 1:00 p.m. The pride parade will follow at 8:15 p.m.
The big US/Italy rugby match will get started at 7:30 p.m. Saturday evening.
Rugby is developing quite a following especially since being named an olympic sport in 2010. Rugby 7's will be played in the 2016 Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro.