Despite the summer events of 2010, the Alabama Gulf Coast Sports Commission (AGCSC) exceeded 2009's previous all-time highs to establish several new records, including tourism money brought into the local economy. In 2010, the commission recruited and/or serviced 68 events - 17 more events than 2009, and generated 38,142 room nights for the island - a 64 percent increase over 23,155 room nights in 2009. Ultimately, these events resulted in a $12.8 million tourism impact, which is a $5 million increase over the previous year.
"We are ecstatic beyond words to have set these records for 2010, especially considering the events that we faced," said Beth Gendler, director of sales for the AGCSC. "The numbers are a direct result of the intensive work of our staff, the cities' park and recreation departments and incredibly valued partnerships throughout the island. Everyone banded together to provide our sports guests with an unrivaled hospitality experience. We wanted them to know how much we appreciated their event."
The recruitment of new events was a key part of the commission's success.
In April, the commission welcomed one of its new events during a peak spring break time. The USSSA Super NIT Baseball Tournament resulted in 764 room nights and a $225,831 tourism impact as these 64 youth traveled to area for a three-day tournament.
Then, near the end of June, the AGCSC retained approximately 60 teams to compete in the NSA Alabama State All-Star Softball Tournament. This three-day event generated 1,824 room nights and $693,831 in tourism impact.
Then at the end of November, they welcomed the first in a series of NAIA national championship events. Sixteen men's soccer teams battled during the three-day championship and lead to 1,038 room nights and $239,934 in tourism impact.
"These new events – paired with our existing line-up – show the strength of our commission and its partnerships throughout the community," Gendler said. "To have solid numbers like these result from first-time events to the area is tremendous."
Looking forward to 2011, the commission will begin the year under a new name: Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Sports Commission (GSOBSC).
"Our CVB completed a corporate identification process in 2010 and changed to Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism, so it only made sense that our sports commission would also transition," Gendler said. "We know most people are more familiar with the cities of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach and might better relate to where their event is being held with our new name change."
The commission has 60 events currently slated for 2011, including two NAIA national championships. The NAIA Women's Softball Championship will be held May 19-25, 2011 while the NAIA Men's Soccer Championship will return for the second year in a row on November 28-December 3, 2011.
"Most importantly, we would like to thank our tremendous crew of dedicated volunteers, who sacrifice their time to support these community events," Gendler said. "We are indebted to their graciousness and generosity."
She added that "another set of behind-the-scenes supporters are our invaluable annual sponsors and the dedicated recreation departments at the Cities of Orange Beach and Gulf Shores. These partnerships have directly lead to our sports commission's growth and ultimately provide another source of business for our island businesses."
For more information on the sports commission – including volunteer and sponsorship opportunities, please visit www.gulfshoresorangebeachsports.com, or call 1-800-745-SAND.