Improving communities through sport

Examples of Sports Tourism: Successful Sports Tourism Events

Sports tourists at sporting event supporting their teams.

Sports tourism is a well-established concept, but many investors and entrepreneurs are still not quite sure what it could mean for their projects. Successful sporting events lead to increased sports tourism, generating recognition and revenue for your sports facility, local businesses, and the whole community. However, success is never guaranteed; it requires intelligent investment, patience, and cutting-edge marketing. Today the SFA/SFM team will provide a few examples of sports tourism with large-market, mid-market, and small-market events.

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Examples of Successful Sports Tourism Attractions

Large-Market Sports Tourism Events

  • NCAA Final Four – The College Basketball March Madness Tournament is one of the best examples of the benefits of sports tourism for host cities. Each year up to 14 cities will host tournament games, and competition to host is fierce. In 2018, the host city of the Final Four estimated an economic impact of $135 million for the city of San Antonio. With nearly 71,000 fans visiting the city, the benefits to local businesses were immense.
  • NFL Draft – Until recently, the NFL Draft had a relatively small following and was always held at Madison Square Garden. As popularity for the event began to rise, the NFL decided to host the Draft at a new location every year. Since then, the NFL Draft has been a major boon to the host city. In 2018, Dallas held the event at AT&T Stadium in the biggest NFL Draft event yet. Visit Dallas estimated that the event generated $125.2 million in economic impact for the Dallas region over the three-day event.
  • The Honda Classic – The Honda Classic set a record for attendance in 2018, in part because of the city of Palm Beach made a major investment in the event, and in part because it featured the long-awaited return of Tiger Woods. With an incredible attendance number of 224,642 spectators over the seven-day event, the economic impact on the Palm Beach community was substantial.
  • Austin Marathon – Successful sports tourism events are not solely in the realm of traditional spectator sports events. The Austin Marathon attracted an estimated $37.5 million in external spending in the Austin economy without the traditional spectator draw that accompanies more popular sports.
  • Pop Warner Super Bowl & National Cheer & Dance Championships – Large sports tourism events are not exclusive to adult or professional sporting events. The Pop Warner Super Bowl/National Cheer & Dance Championships attract thousands of participants, their families, and spectators from around the world. In 2018, the event attracted over 50,000 visitors to Kissimmee, Florida. With an estimated $8 million spent in the community, this event shows that even youth sports tourism can be a major boon to local businesses.

Mid-Market Sports Tourism Events

  • CIAA Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournament – The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association hosted the third largest collegiate event in the country. Despite not having the following of the NCAA, this event brought over 150,000 fans to Charlotte in 2018, generating more than $50.5 million for the city. Even mid-market sports tourism events have the potential to create an incredible impact with the right investment.


  • FLW Tour Forrest Wood Cup – The 2017 Fishing League Worldwide Forrest Wood Cup shows that even very niche sports tourism events have the potential to have a significant economic impact. With over 66,000 visitors in attendance, this event generated an estimated 24.4 million dollars in Hot Springs, Arkansas.


  • The American Legion World Series – The American Legion World Series is a mid-market youth baseball tournament held in Shelby, North Carolina. This sports tourism event has shown how steady improvements can result in an incredible impact for communities. Available economic impact reports show growth from $9.3 million regionally to $16.8 million since 2011.


  • WFDF World Ultimate Club Championships – The WFDF World Ultimate Club Championships is another example of the power of investment in niche sporting events. While many people remain unaware of the existence of Ultimate Frisbee, this event has made an enormous impact on the community of Lebanon, Ohio. According to the Warren County Convention and Visitors Bureau, the WFDF Championships had an estimated economic impact of over $10 million.  


  • Minto US Open Pickleball Championships – Despite being a relatively new event and a niche sport, the Minto US Open Pickleball Championship has managed to grow each of its three years in existence. In 2018, the Championship brought 11,000 spectators and 1,300 participants, resulting in an estimated economic impact of $4.9 million to the county of Collier.


Small-Market Sports Tourism Events


  • Little League Senior League Softball World Series – Although the LLSLS World Series is the largest international youth sports tourism event in Delaware, it has an economic impact that stretches into Maryland. This event brought around 150 athletes and over 12,000 spectators in support — with an estimated economic impact of over $2 million for the state.


  • Maverik National Lacrosse Classic – The Maverik National Lacrosse Classic is a world-class Lacrosse event in its twelfth year. In 2018, this event drew 2,000 athletes and over 3,000 spectators to Frederica, Delaware. The Maverik has managed to grow steadily thanks to unique offerings like guest speakers and eSport areas — keeping athletes entertained even when they aren’t competing.


  • NTBA Boys National Championship – The NTBA Boys National Championship makes use of its incredible location, at Myrtle Beach, Florida, to attract families to support their young athletes while also enjoying family time at the beach. In 2018, the Championship attracted 3,500 athletes and 10,000 spectators, and it has great potential to continue to grow.


  • Missouri National Archery in the Schools Program State Tournament Championship – Located in the family-friendly vacation destination of Branson, Missouri, the MNASPS Tournament Championship has gained a tremendous following despite being such a niche sport. In 2018, the event drew more than 3,100 youth athletes to compete.


Bring Top-Notch Sports Tourism Events to Your City

The SFA/SFM team has the experience and expertise to develop sports facilities that can host even the biggest sports events. If you believe your city could benefit from the incredible economic impact these sports tourism events can offer, contact our team today at 727-474-3845 to learn more.

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