There has been a trend towards communities across the country building large multi-sport complexes. The dual intent is to accommodate local league sports and to also use the facilities for hosting travel events to capture the sports tourism dollar. Municipalities with these venues may consider themselves fortunate.
The facilities can be costly. However they are typically underwritten by SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) funds or some other funding mechanism that doesn’t entirely put the onus of financial responsibility wholly on the locals.
Not all communities have or can afford large facilities, but that doesn’t lessen the opportunity of drawing visitors for tournaments, competitions, or events. The advantage comes in having quality or unique venues that can be suitable for myriad sports ideas.
Thomson, Georgia, a rural community 30-miles west of Augusta, is an example of a community utilizing the quality of their facilities over the quantity to attract visitors. Sweet Water Sports Complex and the Thomson High School “Brickyard” football stadium offer excellent amenities for traditional sports. Not as visible, but no less important to the sports tourism cause are gems like Veterans Disc Golf Course at Sweet Water Park and Georgia’s Little River Water Trail. Disc golf and kayak fishing tournaments will work to great effect in this community. These tournaments appeal to a niche audience that will probably want to return for a visit even if they are not competing. The events aren’t typically huge, but large enough to have significant impact in a small town.
Supporting sports tourism is smart destination marketing. Even if a community doesn’t have a massive sports mega-complex, they still can attract this market. Every community has a unique asset that could be the next cool sports venue. It’s about being aware of what you have and going with what ya got. It really is that simple.