The connection between a park system and its health and leisure benefits to local residents isn’t difficult to draw. Now, the Springfield-Greene County Park Board is trying to illustrate its effect on the area’s economic development.
A Springfield-Greene County Park Board analysis of eight events held Oct. 11–24 indicate $2.05 million was pumped into the local economy by visitors who came to the area to take part in park activities. Altogether, 50,103 people – including residents – participated in one of the events during that two-week period. But the economic impact is from visitors alone, officials said.
“We’re reporting new money coming to the area,” said Bob Belote, assistant director of parks. “That’s not resident spending.”
The park board calculates event attendance through a variety of means, Belote said, citing car and body counts and data from tournament organizers. Officials use random surveys to identify participants as local residents who live within the area the park board serves; “day-trippers,” who live within a 25-to-100-mile radius; or overnight visitors, who live 100 miles or farther. A conservative formula adopted by the Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau is applied to overnight and day-tripper counts to determine how much visitors are spending in the area, Belote said.
The Springfield CVB estimates overnight visitors spend between $100 and $150 a day while they’re in town, said public relations manager Susan Wade, adding that amateur sporting events tend to fall on the lower side of the estimate. The park board estimates people who drive in for the day to attend or participate in an event spend roughly $25, Belote said, noting estimates err on the side of caution, and if there is any doubt that visitors aren’t in the area specifically for a park event, they won’t be counted.
Not only are visitors’ dollars spent at hotels, restaurants, gas stations and retail shops, but those purchases also are generating sales tax, noted Parks Director Jodie Adams.
“That sales tax supports a lot of entities,” she said. “We’re Greene County-wide and all those taxes feed back into our community.”
While the park board has not looked at every one of its events under the economic microscope – though leaders said the commission of such a study is under consideration – the board also looked at 20 events scheduled throughout the year in 2009. The economic impact of those events was estimated at $4.06 million. The largest event within that study was last year’s March 7–8 Greater Springfield Sports Commission Champion’s Challenge Youth Soccer Tournament, which brought roughly $415,200 into the local economy.
This year, during the park board’s Oct. 11–24 snapshot, the Oct. 16–17 Incredible Pizza Fall Classic Youth Soccer Tournament drew 5,412 spectators and 2,656 players and coaches. The park board estimates nonresidential spending at $1.04 million for that two-day period.
Last year, the same event generated roughly $402,700, according to the 2009 report. Attendance also improved year-over-year, with 4,788 spectators and 2,394 players and coaches taking part in the 2009 event.
“We’ve done a lot more with advance marketing,” Adams said, noting that spreading the word isn’t limited to one event or sport. “We’ve made facilities improvements and we’ve been promoting the facilities and our capability. We’re also looking at schedules of events to make sure we don’t run into another big tournament.”
The park board works in tandem with the CVB and the Greater Springfield Sports Commission to market the area to the sports industry, Adams said, adding that work done in the past decade – from facilities improvements to the addition of greenways trails – has given the group a more attractive message to share with organizers.
And when organizers take a look at the area, Adams said, a number of additional eyes also look upon the community.
“When you have statewide and national events, it exposes Springfield, Missouri, and the region throughout Greene County to the country,” she said. “It puts Springfield on the map, and you never know what business or business owner might see us because of that event.”[[In-content Ad]]