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Four Sports Weekends to Boost West Michigan Economy by $14.3 Million

1 May, 2015


New Events at Art Van Sports Complex Contribute to Economic Surge

It may only be spring in West Michigan, but area hotels and restaurants might need to prepare now for a summer business surge if economic impact projections by the West Michigan Sports Commission (WMSC) come true.

According to WMSC President Mike Guswiler, Kent County could experience four sellout weekends this summer due to multiple sporting events and tournaments that will jam area hotels with players, their families and fans – generating as much as $14.3 million collectively. A key contributor of events those weekends is the Art Van Sports Complex, which opened recently for its first complete year of operation.

 “Hotels will be scarce in Kent County this summer – especially on four big weekends – much of it due to sporting events in town,” said Guswiler. “Between a handful of large tournaments and the Art Van Sports Complex open for its first full year of business, we’ll be bursting at the seams as a county.”

In addition to large sporting events concentrated on four weekends plus tournaments at the Art Van Sports Complex, smaller events are interspersed that contribute to the overall “heads in bed” and visitor spending.

“Sports tourism continues to have a significant impact in West Michigan, and this summer is a perfect case in point,” Guswiler added.

Four Countywide Sellout Weekends Due to Sports Tourism

The West Michigan Sports Commission expects an especially strong tourism impact on four summer weekends when large sports tournaments are concentrated, contributing to heavy demand on Kent County’s hotel inventory.

“These four sellout weekends are doing exactly what the WMSC was created to do – serve as an economic generator by attracting sporting events and resulting athletes, families and spectators to the region,” said Guswiler.

The weekends, their respective events and total estimated economic impact (EEI) are as follows:

 April 24-26                                                          Total Weekend EEI: $1,158,254

 May 29-31                                                            Total Weekend EEI: $4,469,981

June 26-28                                                            Total Weekend EEI: $4,480,500

 July 24-26                                                            Total Weekend EEI: $4,184,500

 A full list of summer sporting events in West Michigan can be found at westmisports.com/events/wmsc-events.

Art Van Sports Complex Opens with Full Calendar/Fields: Opening last weekend with a local high school baseball double header plus a United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA) Softball Showcase event that drew 140 girls from across the Midwest, the Art Van Sports Complex (AVSC) kicks off its tournament season Saturday with the USSSA River City Global Qualifier April 25-26, with 28 baseball teams from around the Midwest. 

 This weekend begins a stretch of 16 consecutive weekends of tournament play at the complex, contributing to a total of 21 of 25 playable weekends in 2015 booked with baseball and softball tournaments – a few of which will fill the complex to capacity with teams traveling from as far as New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Ontario. The AVSC can hold 60 teams on its eight fields for a weekend tournament. While a typical tournament includes 50 teams, several are expected to exceed the 60-team capacity such as the Game Day USA Majestic Prospect Games June 12-14 with 65 teams and the Game Day USA National Championships July 23-26, far exceeding the capacity at 91 teams. Fields owned by Rockford Public Schools will be used for overflow.

“If we continue booking tournaments of this size at this rate, we will need to begin Phase 2 construction of another quad of baseball/softball fields sooner rather than later,” said Guswiler.

The West Michigan Sports Commission points to another element of the complex’s impact – local participation. AVSC Manager Bryan Baar said, “The primary goal of the complex is to attract travel tournaments to generate tourism dollars, but we’re seeing the complex have a more widespread impact locally than expected. We’re drawing everything from local high school games and collegiate conferences, to Special Olympics and Meijer State Games of Michigan baseball tournaments, to community events like the Robert Kozminski Memorial Softball Tournament. We’ve even booked a wedding.”

The AVSC also has added local jobs, with three full-time staff hires and up to 40 seasonal staff to support grounds, concession and parking activities. In addition to Complex Manager Bryan Baar, full-time staff includes Concession Manager Jill Kuzma, hired in summer 2014; and Grounds Manager Jake Slaydon, hired in March 2015.

About the West Michigan Sports Commission: The West Michigan Sports Commission (WMSC), a non-profit 501 (c) (3), identifies, secures and hosts a diverse level of youth and amateur sporting events to make a positive impact on the economy and quality of life in the region. Since its inception in 2007, the WMSC has booked 400 sporting events and tournaments that attracted 560,000 athletes and visitors, generating $145 million in direct visitor spending. The WMSC also manages the championship-caliber Art Van Sports Complex completed in fall 2014, the only baseball/softball complex of its kind in West Michigan. A flagship project of the WMSC, the complex is estimated to attract more than 75 events and 135,000 visitors in its first five years, with an economic impact for Kent County of $20 million. Visit westmisports.com and Facebook.com/WestMichiganSportsCommission and follow @WestMiSports.

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