SportsEvents Magazine

MAR 2018

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

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Page 29 of 75

March 2018 30 he business of producing and hosting sports events is an industry flourishing despite conflicting data and paradoxical opinions. But not to worry: in the 13 years we've compiled our annual industry trends report, well, the more things change, the more they stay the same. If you accept the opinions voiced in recent articles in the New York Times and other national media, you might believe the industry is going to hell in a handbas- ket. Vanity Fair, for example, published a piece last year that leads with the comment that the youth sports tourism industry is "travel team sports run amok." Then it cites sports complexes such as Grand Park in Westfield, Ind., which opened in 2014; Rocky Mount Sports Complex in Rocky Mount, N.C., which opened in 2006 but is adding an event center, due to open in October, to host indoor sports; and Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, the pioneer of this trend, which opened in 1997. When it comes to youth sports, "business is thriving," the feature says. Well which is it? Running amok or thriv- ing? Obviously, there are cases in which you can make the point either way but all in all, we're doing quite well, thank you. Certainly there are industry challenges driven by rising participation costs and the family time demands of youth sport participation, not to mention the growing trend for early sports specialization. The Sports Fitness Industry Association (SFIA), the gold standard of sports industry research, consistently notes that youth sports participation rates continue to dwindle. Given that, one might question the logic as to why sports destinations across the U.S. have been entering into a sort of sports facilities arms race in order to gain superi- ority in the quantity and quality of sports facilities they can offer. The clear mission is to attract more competitions and espe- cially the participants and families those events bring to town. Obviously, a dwin- dling market would not attract the massive investment going into sports facility con- struction and renovation across the U.S. Even the big boys of high finance are jumping into the arena. NBA stars and billionaire businessmen alike are investing hundreds of millions of dollars into youth sports ventures of all types, especially new technology enterprises. Meanwhile, kids playing sports are get- ting swept up into scenarios that shockingly resemble those in the pro levels of competi- tion. And the cost for parents can certainly break the bank, not to mention the toll it can take on their lives. Practice schedules and competition can take over family life at the expense of new vehicles and family T ANALYSIS & COMMENTARY BY TALTY O'CONNOR SPORTSEVENTS PUBLISHER t SPECIAL Feature

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