SEP 2018

ConventionSouth magazine is the leading resource for meeting planners who book all types of events, conventions, conferences and group travel in the south.

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S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 8 ²ConventionSouth ² w w w . c o n v e n t i o n s o u t h . c o m 29 MARKET SEGMENT REPORT: SPORTS EVENTS & COMPETITIONS Destination marketing professionals describe the sports market as steady and reliable during economic downturns and expansive with un- limited growth potential at any other time. It's the primary reason that communities both large and small continue to invest in infrastructure that appeals to the sports events market. "The reason why we have these stadiums in Arlington is not just because we love sports but because we love the business of sports; it's big business," said Matt Wilson, vice president of sports and events with the Arlington (Texas) Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB). "What we've found is that no matter what happens, people will find a way for their daughter to play in that volleyball tournament or their son to play in that baseball tournament." Calling the sports market "recession resis- tant," Wilson said that the opportunity today is greater than ever. "You can see it in television programming," he said. "You can see it in how people spend their disposable income. The en- tire country has just gravitated more and more to sports, and there are more sports than ever to choose from." Jennifer Sugarman, president and CEO of the Cocoa Beach (Fla.) Regional Chamber of Commerce, attributes more than $9 million in direct economic impact to the region's USSSA Space Coast Complex alone, bringing pri- marily slow-pitch softball, baseball, fast-pitch softball and basketball events to the region. "USSSA's guaranteed room nights generate an estimated $500,000 a year in additional tourist tax revenue for the Space Coast, based on an aver- age room rate of $100 a night," she said. Growing Infrastructure Growing demand for new sports facilities has led to increased need for inno- vative, cost-effective con- sulting and financing solutions, such as those now offered by the Sports Facilities Advisory (SFA), a leading youth sports and recreation consultancy that will manage the new Rocky Mount Event Center in North Carolina's Nash County. Scheduled to open in October 2018, the new center will complement the existing Rocky Mount Sports Complex, which currently brings more than 100,000 visitors to the com- munity each year. According to Barbara Green, executive di- rector with Nash County Travel and Tourism, the 165,000-square-foot center will elevate the region's appeal as a sports destination by providing the capacity to host multi-court tour- naments, trade shows, meetings, concerts and community events. The facility will also pro- vide a 15,000-square-foot family entertainment center that will have a variety of interactive games, ropes course, climbing walls and other family-friendly activities. "The Rocky Mount Sports Complex contin- ues to bring in large groups throughout the year with baseball and softball tournaments, soccer and lacrosse teams, and the Down East Viking Classic football, which is in its 21st year," Green said, noting that the new event center will allow the region to expand out to basket- ball and volleyball tournaments, wrestling, ► Birmingham SEC Baseball Tournament Rocky Mount Soccer South Seas Island Resort Aerial South Seas Island Resort

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