SportsEvents Magazine

DEC 2016

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

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December 2016 20 www.sportseventsmagazine.com First, however, we wanted to find out if our DMO respondents — ranging across the nation from Alabama and Florida to California and Washington — think that room nights are a sufficient barometer for the value of a sporting event and ultimately for the allocation of marketing dollars to CVBs and sports commissions. Also, we inquired as to what other factors they believe should be included in such evaluations. Several said that sports events at most destinations around the country are measured almost exclusive- ly by room nights generated and none indicated that the room-nights calculation shouldn't be included as part of such assessments. But Beth Gendler, vice president of sales for Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Sports Commission in Alabama; Cissy Aberg, sports sales manager for Visit Plano in Texas; Richard Sanders, vice president of sports marketing and special events for Visit Panama City Beach in Florida; Tammy Dunn, sports develop- ment director for the Snohomish County Sports Commission and Snohomish County Tourism Bureau in the state of Washington; and Charlene Lennon, director of sales for visitsantarosa.com in Sonoma County, California, all also rec- ognize additional important factors in the overall sports event economic evaluation. Some that they noted include: ATTENDANCE & DIRECT SPENDING The number of people who attend an event is the obvious factor that indicates likely economic impact. "Attendance is often the bigger-dollar number in economic impact in sports," Plano's Aberg said. "In youth recreational team sports, which is our bread and butter here in Plano, that number can be magni- fied by family and friends in attendance depending on whether the competitors are 16-year-old boys or 12-year-old girls." Snohomish County's Dunn said the value of direct spending is implicitly tied to attendance figures. "Economic impact is more than just room nights as direct spending is valuable to the city and county officials," Dunn said. "Tourism is an economic driver as visitors spend money at restaurants, retail stores, attractions, gas stations, grocery stores, entertainment functions and hotels." SPURRING GROWTH IN PARTICULARLY DESIRABLE SPORTS OR ASSOCIATED SPORTS But our respondents know it isn't neces- sarily all about a particular event's bot- tom line. Several see the power of certain sports events to spur growth in a partic- ularly desirable sport as something that should mitigate the room-nights equation for that lesser-performing sports event. An event that has the ability to grow in other directions is one of the two types of sports events Visit Panama City Beach believes in along with "room-night gen- erators," according to Sanders. By way of example, he noted Pro Watercross, which has made it possible for the PCB commu- nity to include beach volleyball and other sports involved at the same time. Santa Rosa's Lennon makes a point with leading questions that veer away from the traditional room-nights idea to include similar elements. "Will it help market the destination?" Lennon said. "Will it help out that sport's growth in our community? For example, we had an extreme mountain bike event that had room nights, yes, but had great attendance and afterwards the promoter helped build a pump track [a special track for mountain biking and BMX] in one of our city parks. Will hosting lacrosse events help bring lacrosse into our city high schools?" SPURRING SPORTS EVENTS HOSTING OPPORTUNITIES THROUGH POPULAR, PRESTIGIOUS EVENTS Another one of the types of sports events Panama City Beach "believes in" are prestigious "brand image" events such as IRONMAN. "At times, certain events may not look good from a room-night standpoint but it may bring teams and visitors from a part of the country and international- ly that normally would not be coming to PCB," Visit Panama City Beach's Sanders said. "IRONMAN, for instance, is represented in all 50 states and over 40 foreign countries. To host a national tournament with any association brings SportsEvents Magazine consults with destination marketing organizations (DMOs) to look at the perennial question of whether or not the room-nights equation should be the definitive measure of the economic impact of a sports event for a host city. We were most interested this year at what sports commission and CVB profession- als are actually doing to shift the focus away from room nights and re-educate city officials, hoteliers and others who are allocating marketing dollars to their organizations based on this narrow view. SPECIAL FEATURE: CVBs & Sports Commissions Economic Impact: DMOs Expand Sports Event Hosting Equation BY T . WAYNE WATERS

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