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Midland, Texas, Rebrands Its Sport Tourism Initiative

29 Jun, 2016

By: Tracey Schelmetic

Midland, Texas is looking for some sport tourism, and the region is taking a first step toward drumming it up: the former Midland Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (CVB) is changing its name to VisitMidland and introducing to a new logo to go with the new name. Brad Barnett, CVB executive vice president of tourism and facilities, said the new name will help raise awareness, which is the first step to attracting amateur sporting events.

“How many people really know what CVB stands for?” Barnett asked.

(Well, okay; those in the sports event industry know, but outside of that, and outside of the hospitality field? Fewer, for sure.)

Barnett recently told the Midland Reporter-Telegram that CVB had been working for the past several years on rebranding itself. In addition to the name and the logo, the group is also debuting a new Web site, visitmidland.com. While VisitMidland will focus on bringing a variety of events to the area, its primary focus will be sports tourism because of the revenue potential to the area in terms of hotel, restaurants and other attractions.

Midland, which is nicknamed the Tall City, was a former host to a variety of baseball and softball tournaments. Officials say the city has lost several tournament-hosting opportunities to Hobbs, New Mexico, and they believe the new push will reverse the trend. Midland is hoping to attract two prominent competitive diving events to its O’Shaughnessy Diving Center inside City of Midland Aquatics. It’s also looking for more outdoor opportunities.

“With low humidity and plenty of sunshine, Midland, Texas is the perfect place to enjoy sports,” according to the VisitMidland Web site.

Sports tourism represents at least 60 percent of travel and tourism dollars for the city. To push ahead with the level of initiative VisitMidland has for the area, however, the city’s 4B sales tax will need to be renewed.

“The 4B sales tax is a quarter-cent sales tax that currently funds operations of the Scharbauer Sports Complex,” wrote the Reporter-Telegram’s Trevor Hawes. “It is up for re-election, possibly in November. And with the sports complex’s debt to be paid off — possibly by the end of the year — the city has proposed diversifying what the tax is used for — namely the construction of new sports facilities to draw more tournaments to Midland. A final version of the 4B ballot measure has not yet been finalized.”

Former mayor and current Midland Chamber of Commerce President Bobby Burns told the Reporter-Telegram availability of sports venues, entertainment venues and convention spaces are important revenue generators.

“Facilities give us the opportunity to fill hotels and bring money in. It’s extremely important because it affects the quality of life so much,” he said. “Back when I was mayor, I don’t think I fully grasped the impact of the tourism industry. The numbers are pretty remarkable. But if you live in Midland and you’re just a normal person who lives here, it’s hard to see it. But the impact is pretty amazing. It’s a big, big part of the economy.”

Midland is currently home to three professional sports teams: Midland RockHounds baseball, West Texas United Sockers soccer, and the West Texas Drillers football.

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