Sports Tourism Scores Big for Harford County
11 Apr, 2019
Baseball, Lacrosse and Soccer Tournaments Bring Visitors and Revenue to Area
Sports tourism in Harford County is the source of a nearly $50 million economic impact for the county, according to a newly released study commissioned by Visit Harford.
That revenue was enjoyed by hotels, restaurants and retail shops from the direct and indirect spending of incoming guests for youth baseball, lacrosse and soccer tournaments over the last three years.
The study, conducted by Crossroads Consulting, Inc., looked at the county’s outdoor sports tournaments played at Ripken Stadium, Cedar Lane Regional Park and Harford Polo Grounds for the years 2016, 2017 and 2018. The findings estimated the total economic impact of the tournaments to be $49,432,000, with direct spending being twice that of indirect spending. While the number of baseball tournaments held in Harford County declined in 2017 and 2018, the youth sport averaged the highest economic impact of the three at $32,700,000. Youth lacrosse averaged $13,615,000 and youth soccer $3,117,000.
“Harford County is a tournament destination and sports tourism is a significant part of our economic infrastructure,” says Greg Pizzuto, executive director of Visit Harford. “The study quantifies this for us and it gives us a solid basis to attract new sports-related events. It also confirms to local businesses that the potential of this market is a significant revenue generator.”
Pizzuto says tournament organizers look for venues that are not only physically suitable for their sport, but also in or near vibrant communities and convenient for travel. “Our location within the I-95 corridor, our efficient and well-kept sporting venues and our lodging and dining establishments all contribute to an outstanding experience for tournament attendees. As these tournaments keep coming back, businesses in Harford County will benefit from their patronage, and residents will have job opportunities,” Pizzuto notes.
The study showed that the three sports brought in nearly 63,000 participants each year – spectators, players and coaches. These visitors logged 39,300 room nights in local hotels, spent $33,205,000 directly into paying for hotels, food and amenities while here, and $16,227,000 on indirect expenditures, which are the dollars spent to support the direct expenses (i.e. supplies needed by restaurants to serve the meals). A total of 660 jobs were supported each year by the tournaments. In addition, the hotel occupancy tax generated during these sports tournaments was $224,000 per year (baseball - $170,000 lacrosse - $50,000 soccer - $4,000). The fiscal impact at the state level was $2.8 million for the overall three-year period.
“The study numbers support the claims that we have always known to be true -- Harford County is truly among the sought-after destinations for sports tourism,” says Pizzuto.
About Visit Harford: Visit Harford is Harford County’s Destination Marketing Organization as recognized by the State of Maryland. The non-profit organization promotes tourism within Harford County by sharing information on local events, restaurants, attractions, sightseeing opportunities, sporting and recreational facilities, entertainment venues and more in the “Experience Harford” e-newsletter, at www.visitharford.com, and on the organization’s Facebook page.