Sports is economic development. That is the mantra for Sports Strategies, and we have lived by it since inception. The 2019 IEDC (international Economic Development Council) Annual Conference in Indianapolis presented an excellent opportunity to prove sports business is great business for local communities.
Sports tourism is typically generated through sports commissions, DMOs, and parks and recreation departments, but the value of hosting tournaments and events, is not lost on development authorities. Over the course of the conference, this was reinforced in discussions with community leaders who shared in our vision of how sports and recreation drives local economies.
In fact, the value of sports tourism was not lost on conference organizers, as one of the off-site sessions included a site visit to Grand Park Sports Campus in Westfield, Indiana. This 400-acre campus is one of several mega complexes across the U.S. that follows the trend of communities making substantial investments in sports tourism.
We came away from Indy more convinced that sports tourism needn’t live just inside the bubble of destination marketing organizations. Sports can be an important driver of economic development, going beyond visitor spending for a single event. Sports and recreation bring economic opportunities, including business investment and job creation, and should be considered in economic development planning.