Most people enjoy the benefits of sports and recreation. And, as you are taking the interest to read this, I’ll assume that includes you. Sports and rec activities are fun, healthy, energizing, and from a spectator’s standpoint, interesting and entertaining. They can also be extremely beneficial economically ‘downstream’ to a wide segment of the business community.
An important function of the Wenatchee Valley Sports Council involves the tracking of sports tourism spending in the Valley — specifically, estimates on monies spent by visitors coming here for sports related events and tournaments. This tracking is an extension of our partnership with the Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce, which assumed the responsibility of destination marketing for the Wenatchee Valley earlier this year.
The sports side of tourism spending here is spread over a wide variety of activities. Baseball and softball lead the way, but of the top 10 events in 2012 in terms of tourism spending, six different sports made the list, illustrating the depth of opportunities here. Events in running, swimming, cycling, Special Olympics Winter Games and skiing also made the cut. Noticeably absent was soccer, which took a major hit when fires forced the cancellation of the Apple Cup Soccer Tournament last October. But all signs point to a healthy return of that event this fall.
This year, sports tourism spending got off to a great first half, up over $400,000 compared to the first six months of 2012. There have been a number of new events this year, including gymnastics, skiing and running as well as some growth in youth hockey. And there are more new events on the horizon this summer that have some real growth potential down the road. On the down side, many baseball and softball tournaments have fewer teams registered. Each year, teams have more and more choices as to where to play. New tournaments in different locations can sometimes be appealing. That’s why I consider efforts at retaining what we already have to be just as important as the recruitment of new events.
So what do all of these numbers add up to? By the end of the year, barring unforeseen circumstances (see fires, 2012), sports tourism spending in the Wenatchee Valley should land in the $7.2-$7.4 million range. That will lead to over 26,000 hotel room nights. Keep in mind this includes tournament and sports event tourism spending only. It doesn’t include spending by locals or take into account individuals or families that come here to bike, hike, raft, golf and ski. Add those into the pot, and you’d see numbers way over $10 million as well as a considerable jump in room nights. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a significant push to bring those folks here; it’s just much more difficult to track.
Numbers and statistics can sometimes put you to sleep. But these are real eye-openers that point out the contribution local sports and recreation have to jobs, local tax dollars, a healthier economy and, yes, entertainment.
Prior to joining the Wenatchee Valley Sports Council, Matt Kearny spent his entire career in media, including sports director/sales manager at KPQ Radio and advertising/management at The Wenatchee World. The Sports Council partners with the Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce in efforts to grow and maintain a solid destination marketing base.