Anya Sostek was a GOVERNING correspondentE-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Recreational sporting events can mean sweaty kids, anxious parental spectators and lots of Gatorade. For the cities hosting the events, that translates into money. Increasingly, cities are marketing themselves toward amateur events--cashing in on the proceeds from hotel stays, restaurant meals and souvenirs.
Tempe, Arizona, is one city that has taken the lead. A few years ago, it realized that an annual soccer tournament was having an impact on its economy of more than $1 million. Now, the city markets itself at trade shows and networks with officials of youth and amateur sports. "It's a very viable market," says Stephanie Nowack, president of the Tempe Convention and Visitors Bureau. "It's something that we are very excited to be a part of."
Tempe also has hosted or is planning to host a national youth baseball tournament, a masters swimming tournament and numerous triathlons. Recently, the Arizona Valley area hosted the first annual P.F. Chang's Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Marathon. The event lured nearly 30,000 participants and had an economic impact of $41 million for the entire Valley. The hot climate makes Arizona an attractive destination for outdoor events in winter. The Rock 'n' Roll race was run in January.
Nowack says that recreational sporting events also are attractive as a reliable source of revenue in an unpredictable economy. "Statistics have shown that it really has been immune to the downturn in the economy," she says. "The family will still travel together, and they'll make it a family vacation."