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Springfield Business Journal Executive Editor Christine Temple discusses sports tourism and the growth of local sports complexes with Lance Kettering, executive director of the Springfield Sports Commission; John Markey, executive director at Lake Country Soccer; and Stacie Wells, general manager at the Betty & Bobby Allison Sports Town.
Christine Temple: We want to start with the numbers. Let’s break down the impact of sports tourism on our region, and also the potential with so many new complexes just opening up, such as Sports Town, and others in the works.
Lance Kettering: In a macro sense, it’s a $40 billion industry across the country for sports travel and tourism. Obviously, that includes things as hotels and restaurants and attractions and all those dollars that are spent in your community, when there is a sports event in your city or region.
Temple: What are we seeing with some of the local tournaments? Stacie, maybe you can speak to this as your facility has been quite busy since it opened.
Stacie Wells: Yes, we have been, thank goodness. We had, just a couple weeks ago, a collegiate volleyball event. Brought in 42 teams. We had Indiana State University, Kansas State University, Mizzou, Arkansas, all bringing in teams and they all stayed in hotels, and they all ate at restaurants and did activities. To piggyback on top of what Lance said, more than just the hotels and the restaurants – anytime you can bring in sports tourism, you bring in people that maybe have never seen the area that they’re traveling to. They might end up liking it. They might end up moving here or they have a business that they want to see brought in. So, sports tourism goes deeper than any extra tax for the economic development.
Temple: What are you anticipating as your potential economic impact coming from the Sports Town facility?
Wells: The Springfield Sports Commission had Huddle Up Group do the economic development plan prior to COVID in 2019. We took that same company and they did a study on just the Allison Sports Town, and it was $30 million net spend. That’s $30 million in new money that’s being spent into the area just from the Allison Sports Town.
Kettering: A good example of this was this past two weekends here in Springfield. We hosted the state basketball championships classes 1 through 3 two weekends ago, and Class 4, 5 and 6 were this past weekend. Then, the National Christian HomeSchool Championships brought in 358 teams to Springfield for competition. Conservative numbers put the economic spending at about $4.8 million for the National Christian HomeSchool Championships and about $3.1 million in economic spending for the state basketball championships in Springfield.
John Markey: I’m soccer-specific, but our tournament in April, we’re trending 125 to 140 teams with 70% being from outside the Springfield, southwest Missouri area. When you look at that, they average 14 to 16 players per team. So, 16 families per team. So, you’re looking at somewhere around each family spending somewhere around $600 when they come in. So, you’re just over $1 million dollars in economic impact. That’s not counting the locals. Our other 30% local teams that come, they go to convenience stores nearby, they add gas, they’re going out to restaurants as teams. So, it’ll bring in well over $1 million in economic impact. We try to do three to four tournaments a year that have that kind of impact.
Wells: John, I know you’ve seen it as well as I have, that a lot of times these weekend tournaments end up being three- and four-day events for families just because that’s kind of their vacation money. There’s lots to do around southwest Missouri.
Markey: We compete heavily with St. Louis and Kansas City for tournaments, which is the turf fields that we’ve got going in and the turf fields that Allison Sports Town put in. The one thing that is consistent, I know Lance knows this from his surveys, is when they come to Springfield, they feel like they get treated better. People come here and they feel good about being here. There’s other things to do here. They don’t have to drive 45 minutes from complex to complex. We have an advantage as a city and as area region here that other markets don’t have. We have to take advantage of that. To do that, the facilities have to be up to par to really match these others to take advantage.
Excerpts by Editorial Intern Presley Puig, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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