No matter if you’re a coach, manager, parent, player or supporter; especially in more competitive settings, you’ve likely had to travel out of town to go to a game or two, or even a tournament.
Just like you’ll need to travel out of town to go to games, other teams will have to travel to your own home city to visit at home games on your turf. This is great news – sports tourism, even on the small scale, can give small towns and cities a great economic boost.
The Big Benefits
Think about your last trip out of town to go to a sports tournament – you’re a parent of a child who plays club soccer. You had to drive three towns over to a three day soccer tournament, and because your child’s team was doing so well you had to stay throughout the event.
This means buying a hotel room and also buying lunch and dinner every night – not counting countless T-shirts, accessories and snacks. You also have to buy first aid supplies and water at local grocery stores. During a morning where you don’t have any games, you take your family to a local point of interest like a science museum. The tournament ends, your team wins and you go home happy.
During this trip, you’ve helped bolster the local economy multiple times. While some purchases may have had a more direct effect than others (like spending money at a chain hotel versus supporting a local, small business eatery), you’ve spent a lot of money in a town that you don’t actually live in all thanks to sports tourism. In 2015, the Sports Tourism Association estimated visitors spending associated with sports events at $9.45 billion dollars!
Capitalizing On Youth Sports
Increasingly large investments are dedicated to creating fields and sports complexes that will cater to large tournaments, and year-round playing. These structures are set up from the ground up in order to maximize participants’ engagement and spending.
On a smaller level, events such as local tournaments or races can also greatly benefit the community; especially when it relies on tourist attractions on a regular basis, such as seashore towns for example.
When a town knows youth sports games are going on, many small businesses like to capitalize on the incoming teams and parents. Some businesses spawn from this concept in and of itself, like a business owner that opens a small café or ice cream stand next to a baseball stadium. This is good business sense and another way a town’s economy can be boosted through youth sports.
For instance, a local pizza place can offer a special discount for teams or anyone who comes in on a certain day wearing a sports jersey.
Often, a sports event is also the first opportunity for new visitors to discover an area they would otherwise have foregone. Their experience will determine whether they will come back, and often give free social media and word of mouth advertising to the town.
What Does it Mean for Your League?
Talk to your town to ensure that they understand the economic benefits of helping you organize a smooth event. Work with local businesses on sponsorship opportunities, and swap ongoing or tactical deals (a local hotel might sponsor teams throughout the year, or organize a free fundraiser gala, against the opportunity to become the “official” event hotel for example). Your insurance company might be interested in additional visibility in order to reach out to other leagues and teams.
Ask your local and regional media outlets (don’t forget social media!) to publicize the event and don’t forget to mention if you need volunteers. With the likelihood that you will attract out of town visitors, and new sponsors, you might recruit volunteers that will stay around beyond the event.