Off-Season Attractions: Seasonal Appeal | Sports Destination Management

Off-Season Attractions: Seasonal Appeal

Dec 31, 2010 | By: Amy Henderson

There are those age old questions that many ask, but few know the answers.


Photo courtesy of US National Whitewater Center
Photo courtesy of US National Whitewater Center

Questions like: What do ski resorts do in the summer? What do rafting venues do in the winter? How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?

Hopefully, we'll be able to answer some of those nagging questions.

Most arenas were created, designed and built to provide a major league venue. Whether it's basketball, baseball, football or hockey, it was constructed to fit their needs and provided a much needed tenant for an extended season.

What about the off season?

Facilities have been booking shoulder business for years with concerts, ice shows and family events.

But with the growth of youth sports, numerous multi-sport facilities have been built to meet the needs of a specific activity.

The market is getting crowded and it's imperative to stay relevant during an off-season.

What To Do, What To Do

Photo courtesy of US National Whitewater Center
Photo courtesy of US National Whitewater Center

Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah, has been hosting group events for 30 years. As one of the premier ski resorts in the United States they've got a handle on the winter season, but they can also stake claim to the summer season as well.

"There's almost more to do in the summer time than the winter time," said Erin Grady, communications manager for Deer Valley Resort. "We host over40 concerts during the summer. Every Wednesday is a free concert and every Friday and Saturday we host the Utah Symphony."

Some of the more popular activities at Deer Valley and in Park City during the off season include road and mountain biking, hiking, whitewater rafting, fly-fishing, golf, hot air ballooning and horseback riding.

There are 55 miles of trail and they offer lift-served mountain biking and hiking as well as scenic chairlift rides. A full fleet of Giant brand mountain bikes are offered for rent.

Grady has been with the resort for 12 years and seen the growth in all of the summer programs offered at Deer Valley.

"It's grown since I've been here on every level," she said. "There are more biking trails, more lifts open during the summer and more concerts each year."


Photo courtesy of New Hampshire Motor Speedway
Photo courtesy of New Hampshire Motor Speedway

"Utah as a whole has been overshadowed in the past," she continued. "People are just starting to realize the accessibility and that's huge for us. The summer time is just beautiful and the weather is incredible."

The offerings aren't only for adults but for the entire family. The resort has a 7,000-square-foot Children's Center and offers a Summer Adventure Camp for kids from two months to 17 years.

With activities like mountain biking, river rafting and rock climbing combined with arts, music, science and sports, it's a big success for all parties.

"Summer camp is great," said Grady. "It's offered to locals and visitors and depending on how you want to work the program, you can use it for just a day to an entire season. And it's customized based on the kids' ages."

Another sport specific venue that has worked hard to ensure they stay busy during the off season is the United States National Whitewater Center in Charlotte, N.C. They opened their doors in November 2006 and knew right away that it would be a slow off-season. Like any business, they learned what worked in the market during the high season and off season.

An AllSport pass system was developed which allows guests to participate in all activities for one flat rate during the high season. They quickly realized that guests weren't interested in rafting during the winter months and adapted the AllSport pass into a CoolPass. It offers the same activities without rafting for one flat rate.

"The CoolPass debuted last season," said Stephen Youngblade. "This year we are truly able to market it and it's very popular with youth groups, school groups and scouts. It allows them to do something different and we've been able to leverage that really well through our group sales."

Besides rafting at USNWC, there are 14 miles of trails for hiking or mountain biking, two zip lines, echo trekking, flat-water kayaking and an adventure course.

Although the on track NASCAR season wrapped in September with the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, the staff hasn't been resting on their laurels.

The Speedway is supporting the Speedway Children's Charities Snowmobile ride where fans take a snowmobile ride through scenic trails and finish with a cookout and bonfire. All proceeds benefit the New Hampshire Chapter of Speedway Children's Charities.

"The big thing to stay relevant is the media presence," said Jerry Gappens, executive vice president and general manager of the Speedway. "Being out there and having a reason to get your self out to the general public. In N.H. with the history of the political climate, you learn to be aggressive and promote yourself."


Photo courtesy of US National Whitewater Center
Photo courtesy of US National Whitewater Center

Gappens was previously with the Charlotte Motor Speedway for 17 years as Senior Vice President of Events and Marketing and moved to the New Hampshire Motor Speedway in 2008.

"One of my goals is to make this a year-round destination," he continued. "With the climate, you are on the track from April until November and then go into hibernation. We are looking at a New England Racing Museum with displays that categorize the history of racing in New England. We are also looking to do a defensive type driving school for younger drivers to learn how to drive in the weather in a controlled environment."

Out in Arizona, snow isn't a problem. The Kino Sports Complex in Tucson, Ariz., is an 11,000-seat grass stadium and future home to the San Diego Padres Triple A baseball team for the 2011 season. This baseball complex is ideal for baseball tournament but offers much more.

Sallyann Wassmuth, marketing director at the Kino Sports Complex for the past eight years has worked hard to host other events, most recently, the annual ‘Making Strides Against Cancer Walk' with the American Cancer Society and ‘Hope Fest' which provides services to members of the economically challenged community.

"Naturally, the complex is a perfect fit for youth, high school, college or adult baseball clubs to host amateur tournaments," said Wassmuth. "But with the unique complex lies a wide range of venues and facilities that can easily be transported into a variety of opportunities."

In February, the complex is turned over to the Gem & Mineral Show and the RV Gem Show utilizing 24 acres and an area community college football team reconfigured the baseball field for regulation football.

More To Offer & Get The Word Out
The great thing about utilizing these venues during the off season is that you can get a unique location as well as discounted pricing.

"We've had some very unique groups here.We've even hosted a wedding where the bride and groom went out and paddled in their wedding dress & tuxedo."

That's not the only one, "We've been involved with the Warrior Adventure Quest," explained Youngblade. "Soldiers can sign up for this program when they return from deployment. Their unit encourages them to participate in high adrenaline activities as part of their transition back."

"They have been coming out multiple times with 50-100 soldiers," he continued. "It's a cool way to think that what we have here isn't just for fun, but is helpful as well."

"You have to try and find different uses for your facility," explained Gappens. "From a Disney premier with the movie Cars to the recent Christmas in Carolinas in Charlotte, that's something that will work well with us. Those are the things you have to look at your facility and make multi uses for it."

Hopefully, some questions were answered.

One final answer remains: It only takes three licks to get to the center of a tootsie pop, according to the owl.

About the Author