The National Association of Sports Commissions (NASC) offers regular event leads for communities searching for event hosting opportunities. Every industry pro I know peruses the lists when they come through email. It’s especially useful for finding national championships as well as events looking for regional homes.
If you’re willing to put in the legwork to establish the relationships, there’s an even deeper source close to home, your local sports groups or Local Sports Bodies (LSB). Recreation facility managers, event promoters, sports club representatives, and race directors are an excellent source for sports development opportunities. From AAU basketball and USSSA baseball tournaments to road races, these events are often silent economic engines.
If your DMO wants to include sports tourism in your marketing and product development plan, consider taking some time to get to know the locals. You’re probably sitting on a goldmine. At minimum you should have a database of all local sports groups and facilities. Keep in regular contact through email and be sure to get their tournament schedules and inquire about new opportunities.
Relationships with your LSB’s can extend beyond being a lead source. Representatives from groups and facilities are an excellent source of knowledge. If you’re a small tourism agency or don’t “speak the language” of sports, don’t fret. There is probably a soccer club representative or a trail race promoter nearby who can educate you on the particulars of their sport. This will come in handy when you up your efforts, and it will allow you to be a better, and more educated, host partner.
Your willingness to collaborate on events can also have another tangible effect. Youth teams and sports clubs are a great source for volunteers. By securing the room block or getting comp rooms for the local club’s annual soccer tournament, you may have found road marshals for the 10K. Many youth teams and clubs seek out volunteer opportunities. Maintaining relationships with the locals can expand your volunteer roster.
It would be ideal if there was some magical all-encompassing list of every event looking for a home, but alas there’s not. Every community is different, and one size definitely does not fit all. Take some time to do research close to home. Find out who host races and who runs tournaments, and plan to keep in regular contact. These new friends will appreciate your support, and your local economy will appreciate the boost.