For a sports geek, there’s no shortage of nice “stuff” in Georgia. If ever there was a more fertile time for the state to capitalize on sports tourism, this is it. And with an abundance of great facilities across the state, right holders and event owners not only have their choice of premium venues, they can also decide whether they want the mountains, the ocean, the City, whatever, as their backdrop. That’s a convenience and a selling point for the state.
Over three-and-a-half days in February, I toured a handful of communities across Georgia visiting old friends and making new ones. From Cobb County to Rabun County, I toured facilities that have hosted the premiere events of their discipline and also venues that didn’t even know they were venues yet. Sports are no longer bound to the traditional fields-of-play and everything should be up for consideration.
From community to community, the excitement was palatable. I accept my biases when it comes to my tour guides, but hearing the plans and seeing the great facilities we have across North Georgia was inspiring. It also didn’t hurt to see so many willing to expand their creativity and go big when it comes to cool events.
Sports tourism as economic development is the new paradigm. You see it manifest itself in a planned sports destination community like Lakepoint in Emerson, the development of new facilities in White County Helen, Georgia, or the level of events hosted in Cobb County and Cumming. These few communities I visited are just a small fraction of what the greater state of Georgia features.
Because of my relationships with sports tourism professionals statewide, I can tell you what we are seeing in North Georgia is happening all over the state. It’s doing wonders for local economies and, collectively, leaving a major impact on the state. It is also leaving a significant impact across our country. As more communities embrace sports tourism as economic development, the benefits are great. And from our vantage point, communities willing to capitalize on it are doing the reaping.