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Like Mom and Apple Pie, Memorial Day Events Popular With Sports Planners

18 May, 2016

By: Mary Helen Sprecher
Travel Opportunities, Patriotism, Kickoff to Summer Add Up to Good Numbers

Memorial Day weekend will bring cookouts, pool openings and parades. It’ll also bring sports. And not just the big guns like the Indy 500 but the smaller, community-oriented events. Think 5Ks, fun walks and more, all intended to get people outside and moving.

Savvy sports planners already know there is money to be made that weekend; the spend doesn’t lie. A blog at Bluefin Payment Systems noted that the largest increases will come from businesses to the restaurant (9.5 percent) and hotel (9.4 percent) industries.

In other words, that would be the hospitality sector. And make no mistake, that sector stands to benefit as Americans flock to visit friends, family, historical sites, the beach and more. And of course, there are plenty of watch parties planned around some of the sporting events taking place this weekend. Two of the biggest include the Indianapolis 500 and the NASCAR Coca-Cola 600. (Want to know some of the impressive spend stats for Indy? They’re right here.)

Other televised events over the holiday weekend include Major League Baseball, the end of conference tournaments in college baseball and college softball, continuation of the NBA and NHL playoffs, golf and the start of the French Open.

But that doesn’t even begin to take into account the thousands of local events. Memorial Day is the second-most popular holiday for barbecues and one of the most popular (next to the Fourth of July and Thanksgiving) for parades.

Sports events span the country and run the gamut from pro to pee-wee. The Disney Memorial Day Soccer Tournament at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando, Florida, attracts more than 650 teams and last year resulted in 1,100 soccer matches being played over the course of the three-day weekend. Placer Valley, California, will host the ASA Memorial Day Soccer Classic, with more than 140 teams coming into the area.

Events with a patriotic theme are easily some of the most popular. In fact, the Running USA site lists more than 200 running and walking events, as well as fun walks, nationwide on Memorial Day alone. A few stand out, simply because they appeal to emotions as well as to those interested in competing or stay fit. In Baltimore, the Maryland Center for Veterans Education and Training (MCVET) holds its annual 5K and 10K Run/Walk on the Sunday prior to Memorial Day, and each year, the race is one of the city’s largest. The American Legion Veterans Memorial 5K, put on by Post 29 in Marietta, Georgia, allows some visitors to register as ‘phantom runners’ in honor of the fallen, and to simply put a registration fee toward the cause. In general, 5K runs and other races are particularly popular with travelers, since they allow visitors to areas to sign up onsite and participate – perfect for weekend visitors to a destination.

Baseball and softball event organizers often take advantage of the Memorial Day weekend and the fact that it is the kickoff of summer to schedule tournaments. The weekend-long Patriotic Pursuit brings baseball teams down to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. The Township of Mahwah (New Jersey) Youth Boosters Softball also holds a tournament that weekend. In Ohio, there’s the Sharks Memorial Weekend Fastpitch Tournament.

Even motorsports are popular. In Washington, DC, two events for motorcycles will take place on Sunday alone. The Rolling Thunder Rally will depart from the Pentagon, with thousands of motorcyclists riding through Washington in an annual demonstration seeking to improve veteran benefits and resolve POW/MIA issues. The Buffalo Thunder Memorial Motorcycle Ride will begin in the Sears parking lot at 2101 Brightseat Rd in Hyattsville, MD and end at the African American Civil War Memorial and Museum.

A survey from PR Web found the average person will spend $225 over the course of the Memorial Day weekend. That’s significant; however, there are no stats as to how much of that goes toward sports events. Suffice it to say, planners are trying for their share of the all-American apple pie.

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