VALPARAISO | An expert in the sports event travel industry had some advice Monday for Porter County officials seeking to tap into the market.
“Look before you leap,” said Don Schumacher, executive director of the National Association of Sports Commissions. “You need to talk to cities that have hosted an event in the past to find out what happened.”
More than 20 officials, including Valparaiso Mayor Jon Costas, Porter County Councilwoman Sylvia Graham, and Indiana Dunes Tourism and Sports Cabinet members attended the first day of Schumacher's two-day workshop at Valparaiso University's Harre Union.
The workshop on the Sports Event Travel Market: Getting Your Share is designed to help officials understand industry trends, decide upon an objective, build consensus, focus efforts, manage resources and create a sustainable model.
Schumacher began by outlining the history of the industry, noting that it continued to grow even during the recession that began in 2008. The terrorist attacks on 9/11 actually boosted participation, as sports helped bring families together after the tragedy, he said.
“The family was taking a front-seat emphasis again,” Schumacher said.
Today, the industry captures more than $8 billion a year in direct spending, with more than 425 cities and counties hosting events.
While there are about 4,000 events seeking a host city every year, many communities also create their own events, Schumacher said.
Some cities limit activities to amateur sports, while others pursue professional events, acquire professional franchises and become involved with local sports programming, Schumacher said.
Competition for events is fierce and the industry has attracted profiteers, but cities and counties that do get involved see a boost in visitor spending and local quality of life, he said.
The largest share of the amateur sports market targets youth, but there also are a good number of adults involved, Schumacher said. He encouraged officials to look at the big picture and have realistic expectations.
“This is not just about youth sports,” he said. “It's about the impact of sports on your community.”