SportsEvents Magazine

DEC 2016

SportsEvents is edited for those who plan tournaments or other sports events.

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Page 19 of 165

December 2016 18 The economic impact of hosting a sport- ing event can be quite attractive. According to the Report on the Sports Travel Industry by the National Asso- ciation of Sports Commissions, visitor spending in 2014 was up three percent from 2013 to $8.96 billion. The number of total visitors entertained in 2014 was 25.65 million. Cities recognize that the sports events industry creates huge impacts on commu- nities and more and more destinations are taking a hands-on role in helping manage their local venues as well as marketing them. With so many new facilities opening all the time — and others being renovated and upgraded — the competition to land an event gets fiercer every day. Planners and rights holders have more options, so destinations have to find new ways to stand out from the crowd. GETTING CREATIVE To land the 2016 National Collegiate Roller Hockey Association National Championships, the team at GO Cedar Rapids (the CVB) didn't waste any time. Knowing the city and venue, the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena, was the perfect fit for the event, the CVB starting building a relationship with the event planners well before it was time to bid. In fact, they attended the event in an- other city a year ahead of time to learn all about the event and meet the event team. "They were very receptive to us at the event, and they took time with us and let us ask questions so that we could be more informed about what their needs were," said Mary Lee Malmberg, GO Cedar Rapid's director of sports tourism. "We were able to learn more about what their teams need and get an understanding of what the planners need to run the event." After hosting the event planners for a site visit, GO Cedar Rapids got creative and created a video tour of the facility as a reminder. "The group had not made a decision yet as to where they were going to hold their event and we knew we were competing against other locations, so this was our way of reminding them about our venue and our community, as well as show them just how much we wanted their business," said Malmberg. "It was a great reminder for them and we ended up booking the event." In Alabama, the city of Foley opened 16 multi-purpose ball fields at the $32 million Foley Sports Tourism Complex earlier this year, and the facility has had great success in filling its calendar: a dozen events already. The Complex's Event Center is expect- ed to open Memorial Day weekend in 2017 and events already are booked for that facility as well. To gain the atten- tion of event planners, city leaders have followed through on a comprehensive strategy to promote both the new venue and community, as a post-event vacation destination. "We have put in a great effort to get in front of event planners and rights hold- ers," said Don Staley, executive director of sports for the city of Foley. "We've spent a lot of time and money going to conventions and getting the word out via our website and social media. And we've been able to attract many of them to come visit and check out the facilities. We've had a high success rate for booking future events. In fact, for 2017, the Complex already has booked more than 50 events." LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION One of those events is Snap Soccer's Publix SuperCup. Snap Soccer's Presi- dent John Guidroz chose Foley specifi- cally because of the number of fields it offers as well as its location. "Foley offered the most number of fields in one location than anywhere else in about a 150-mile radius," Guidroz said. "For me, as an event planner, when I can tell parents that all of their games will be held at one location, that's a huge win. I '' "For me, as an event planner, when I can tell parents that all of their games will be held at one location, that's a huge win. I also knew that Foley offered other things, like the nearby beaches, that would attract people to the location. When I can offer the beach on top of a great facility with excellent fields, that's a big deal." —John Guidroz, Snap Soccer SPECIAL FEATURE: CVBs & Sports Commissions Planner's Market? Destination Approaches To Attract Event Planners BY PAIGE TOWNLEY

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