2022 Champions of Economic Impact in Sports Tourism | Sports Destination Management

2022 Champions of Economic Impact in Sports Tourism

Nov 02, 2022 | By: Mary Helen Sprecher

A Few Words About This Year’s Champions

This industry never ceases to amaze me. Two years ago, I watched it adapt to a completely unexpected game-changer that quickly became a new normal. I saw event owners display ingenuity and creativity, offering virtual events and online competitions. The following year, that same industry kicked a pandemic to the curb and got back to business.

This year, there can be no doubt that we’ve left our woes in the rear-view and that we’re driving forward without a backward glance. To prove it, I need to look no further than our annual awards program, Champions of Economic Impact in Sports Tourism. This year, we’re back to pre-pandemic numbers – and to tell you the truth, we’re exceeding them. This year alone, the economic impact of all award winners was more than $2.42 billion, nearly tripling our highest pre-pandemic number. And that’s just winners – who represent a very small fraction of the entire industry.

This year, our entries brought some surprises. We saw our first event that was held in a U.S. territory. We also had not one but two bowling events among our winners and two brand-new events – a girls’ flag football tournament and a marathon hosted by a city that calls itself home to a branch of the armed forces. Another newcomer was a tournament for teams made up of homeschooled students. There’s no denying that our industry continues not only to grow but also to harness rising trends to provide even more opportunities.

Congratulations to this year’s winners and to all those who make up this industry. It is through your perseverance that we have arrived where we are – and because of you, we have so many great things on the horizon.

- Mary Helen Sprecher

  Hall of Fame Event   




49th AAU Junior National Volleyball Championships

Visit Orlando and Greater Orlando Sports Commission

Location: Orlando, Florida

Total Room Nights: 160,000

Total Economic Impact: $228 million

More than 70,000 athletes and coaches representing 48 states, two U.S. territories and four countries (Canada, Colombia, Dominican Republic and Peru) converged at the Orange County Convention Center (OCCC). The 18-day event brought in approximately $228 million in economic impact to Central Florida, with an estimated 178,000 total attendees. There were 4,450 teams (678 boys and 3,772 girls) participating in 56 divisions. It was the largest sporting event ever held at the OCCC, breaking last year’s record.

  Large Market 2022 Events  


Horse2022 Winter Equestrian Festival

Palm Beach County Sports Commission

Location: Wellington, Florida

Total Room Nights: 195,671

Total Economic Impact: $304 million

The Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) in Wellington, Florida attracts participants from more than 35 countries and 40 states annually each winter. The event is considered the premier international equestrian competition in the country and has direct economic impact from the thousands of people who are involved in or spectators at the competition, as well as indirect impact from those who purchase or build a home and barn in the area. In 2022, the total economic impact of WEF was $304 million and 195,671 room nights during the event.


Photo courtesy of Rip Stell

2022 PGA Championship

Tulsa Sports Commission

Location: Tulsa, Oklahoma

Total Room Nights: 62,077

Total Economic Impact: $157 million

The 2022 PGA Championship contributed to Tulsa’s biggest year in tourism history, electrifying the city with 24,526 visitors who occupied 62,077 hotel rooms nights over the course of the event. 156 of the most elite golfers competed at the pristine Southern Hills Country Club, which not only provides one of the finest settings in the world for the sport, but also boasts excellent facilities and a stunning view of the downtown Tulsa skyline. The event had a $157 million impact on Tulsa’s economy with an average $4,844.50 of spending per visitor.


Photo courtesy of Special Olympics USA Games

2022 Special Olympics USA Games

Greater Orlando Sports Commission

Location: Orlando, Florida

Total Room Nights: 53,968

Total Economic Impact: $71.9 million

The 2022 Special Olympics USA Games were hosted at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex as well as 14 other venues across Central Florida. This multi-sport event featured over 20 different sports and attracted athletes, coaches and families across the United States and beyond to Central Florida. The event was held from June 5 to June 12, 2022.


Photo courtesy of Ripken Baseball

The Ripken Experience™ Aberdeen – 2022 Season

Visit Harford!

Location: Aberdeen, Maryland

Total Room Nights: 50,958

Total Economic Impact: $47.2 million

The Ripken Experience™ Aberdeen is where it all started for Ripken Baseball nearly 20 years ago. The 2022 baseball season in Aberdeen was the biggest in the complex’s history. Ripken Baseball added two state-of-the-art MLB replica fields in April 2022 to allow for expanded capacity and the impact on the region was instant. In partnership with Visit Harford!, The Ripken Experience™ Aberdeen provided a big-league experience for over 20,000 participants and welcomed more than 90,000 visitors to Harford County, Maryland through 38 tournaments.


Photo courtesy of United States Bowling Congress

Women’s Championships

DuPage Sports Commission and Stardust Bowl

Location: DuPage, Illinois

Total Room Nights:18,562

Total Economic Impact: $11.5 million

This is one of the largest female-only participant events encompassing all sports worldwide. 3,155 teams comprised of 12,620 individuals from all 50 states, including Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico, competed in the 70-day event. Seven days featured many international bowlers in the PWBA’s Queens Tournament. Birgit Noreiks of Germany defeated two Columbian bowlers and an American in the finals, winning the coveted tiara. 30,000 participants and spectators walked through Stardust Bowl, drawing coverage from all major national and regional networks.


Photo courtesy of VISIT Milwaukee

2022 Toyota USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships

Sports Milwaukee

Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Total Economic Impact: $6.3 million

Taking place along Milwaukee’s lakefront, the 2022 USA Triathlon Toyota Age Group National Championships was a groundbreaking success in the history of the event. In the largest Age Group National Championships USA Triathlon has hosted to date, more than 6,000 athletes swam, biked and ran as an audience of 12,000-plus looked on, generating an estimated economic impact of $6.3 million. Thanks to the efforts of Sports Milwaukee and USA Triathlon, the triathlon was not only a success, but a historic iteration of the competition.

  MID-Market 2022 Events  


56th AAU Junior Olympic Games

Greensboro Convention and Visitors Bureau

Location: Greensboro, North Carolina

Total Room Nights: 7,597

Total Economic Impact: $65 million

The AAU Junior Olympic Games is the largest multi-sport event for youth in the United States. This year’s 56th edition, held in Greensboro, North Carolina, brought in nearly 19,000 participants with an estimated economic impact of $65 million. The 56th AAU Junior Olympic Games featured 12 different sports competitions, including AAU’s marquee track and field event at NC A&T’s Marcus T. Johnson Track in Truist Stadium. Track and field, the biggest sport at the Games, boasted approximately 14,000 participants.


Photo courtesy of AHM Brands

World Athletics Championships Oregon22

University of Oregon, Travel Oregon, Travel Lane County

Location: Eugene, Oregon

Total Room Nights: 110,000

Total Economic Impact: $50.5 million

World Athletics Championships Oregon22 welcomed over 1,700 athletes from 179 countries to Hayward Field at the University of Oregon in Eugene, known globally as TrackTown USA, and it was the first time the international event was held in the United States. Tickets were sold to people from all 50 states and nearly 40 countries. Tens of thousands visited the region during the 10-day event and a record-breaking one billion people watched on television and online. Records were set and champions were born while the world watched.


Photo courtesy of National Senior Games Association

2022 National Senior Games presented by Humana

Visit Lauderdale

Location: Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Total Room Nights: 16,160

Total Economic Impact: $30 million

The largest qualified multi-sport event in the world brought 12,065 athletes aged 50 and over to Greater Fort Lauderdale to compete in 21 medal sports over 13 days. Economic impact is estimated at $30 million. The theme of “A Reunion for the Ages” brought participants back together after the pandemic disruptions in large numbers, making these the second-largest games in history. Special events celebrated the athletes’ return and also recognized the 50th anniversary of Title IX and the many female athletes from that era who are still active in sport.


Photo courtesy of B.A.S.S.

2022 Academy Sports + Outdoors BASSMASTER
Classic presented by Huk

Visit Anderson and VisitGreenvilleSC

Location: Anderson and Greenville, South Carolina

Total Room Nights: 10,018

Total Economic Impact; $24 million

The world’s largest professional bass tournament returned to Upstate South Carolina. The 2022 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk was held at Lake Hartwell, a familiar location for the tournament. The other tournament events took place at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena and the Greenville Convention Center. The 2022 Bassmaster Classic was the highest attended classic in the history of the event, attracting record attendance from bass fishing sport enthusiasts, with 154,932 at one or more of the event activities.



Huntsman World Senior Games

City of St. George

Location: St. George, Utah

Total Room Nights: 57,950

Total Economic Impact: $20 million

The Huntsman World Senior Games is the largest annual multi-sport event in the world for athletes over 50 years old. The Games attract athletes and spectators from around the world and all 50 states. For 35 years, athletes have been coming to the City of St. George, Utah, USA to compete against one another and to reunite as friends. This two-week event hosts world championship games, 35 different sports, opening ceremonies, concerts, a friendship festival, health screenings, endurance awards, hall of fame and charity projects.


Photo courtesy of Sean Smith

North American Sand Soccer Championships

City of Virginia Beach

Location: Virginia Beach, Virginia

Total Room Nights: 6,000

Total Economic Impact: $15 million

NASSC welcomed 100,000+ attendees to the Virginia Beach oceanfront. Over 500 volunteers helped build 65 soccer fields and a U.S. Open Stadium. The event took a wild turn when a wicked storm rolled through on Sunday afternoon. Hotels were flooded, tents were destroyed, but somehow, the soccer goals and field tapes remained proudly standing. Event workers cleaned up the beach, rescheduled hundreds of matches, communicated with the teams and a few hours later, handed out the championship medals and trophies. It was a memorable weekend in Virginia Beach.


2022 USA Karate National Championships and Team Trials

Spokane Sports

Location: Spokane, Washington

Total Room Nights: 3,000

Total Economic Impact: $7.4 million

The 2022 USA Karate National Championships and Team Trials generated a total of $7,475,000 for the Spokane Region. This event was hosted from June 30 to July 3, 2022, and generated revenue for a city on a weekend that historically has not been tourism heavy, and helped to fill a hole in the city-wide facility calendar. The USA Karate National Championships and Team Trials also had an immense media presence in the Inland Northwest. This event also provided significant community outreach for the karate athletes competing.


Photo courtesy of West Michigan Sports Commission

IBC Youth 2022 Junior Gold Championships

West Michigan Sports Commission

Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan

Total Room Nights: 10,000

Total Economic Impact: $7 million

The 13-day IBC Youth 2022 Junior Gold Championships was one of the largest youth sporting events hosted by the West Michigan Sports Commission in terms of attendees, length and economic impact. It attracted 3,277 athletes from 50 states, two U.S. territories and Costa Rica, in addition to 9,000 spectators. The event was held in three Michigan cities (Grand Rapids, Muskegon and Lansing) across eight bowling centers, providing an economic boost, with athletes and families booking 10,000 hotel nights at more than 30 hotel properties in the three cities.


Photo courtesy of USTA

USTA League National Championships

City Of Surprise – Sports & Tourism / Explore Surprise

Location: Surprise, Arizona

Total Room Nights: 2,127

Total Economic Impact $5.6 million

These championships are the culmination of the season for teams who have advanced through local league seasons, local and area playoffs as well as Section Championships. With more than 300,000 players, USTA League is the country’s largest adult competitive tennis league. Coming to Surprise is the highlight of the championship journey and the USTA and city create a memorable experience for participants and guests. The city welcomes players to the hotels and restaurants and provides participants with an unmatched level of hospitality and attention.


Photo courtesy of Erie Sports Commission

Keystone State Wrestling Championships

Erie Sports Commission

Location: Erie, Pennsylvania

Total Room Nights: 4,573

Total Economic Impact: $3.3 million

72point5 Wrestling’s 2022 regional qualifying series culminated with the Keystone State Wrestling Championships in downtown Erie, driving more than $3.3 million in economic impact to Erie County and giving nearly 2,000 young athletes the chance to compete at Erie Insurance Arena over a four-day tournament. The event was athlete-focused, rewarding qualifying athletes with state championship singlets and featuring a parade of champions on the competition floor.


Futsal Academy
Photo courtesy of Heart & Sole Futsal Academy

United States Youth Futsal-Great Lakes Regional Championship

Heart and Sole Futsal Academy & Sports
Alliance of Greater Akron

Location: Akron, Ohio

Total Room Nights: 1,120

Total Economic Impact: $2 million

The success of this event is the result of Otto Orf’s passion for the sport and his herculean efforts to attract futsal events to Greater Akron. Utilizing the reclaimed Goodyear Hall, built in 1920 on the campus of the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company’s world headquarters, he not only demonstrates his love for futsal, but simultaneously embraces his community. Otto’s influence in the sport of futsal not only extends to his events, but he has coached and supported other national and international teams and events – his reach is global.


Photo courtesy of Glenn Brill, Anderson County PRT

Abu Garcia Bassmaster High School Fishing National
Championship presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors

Visit Anderson

Location: Anderson, South Carolina

Total Room Nights: 6,119

Total Economic Impact: $1.5 million

For the first time since its inception, the Abu Garcia Bassmaster High School Fishing National Championship presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors was held in Anderson, South Carolina, along the shores of Lake Hake Hartwell at Green Pond Landing and Event Center. The event drew anglers, spectators and event sponsors from 39 states and collected 6,119 room nights in the Anderson community. The championship event drew 308 boats with three participants per boat for a total of 924 participants.


Rio Sports Live
Photo courtesy of Rio Sports Live

P.O.N.Y. International Softball World Series

Visit McAllen

Location: McAllen, Texas

Total Room Nights: 2,250

Total Economic Impact: $1.3 million

With over 40 international teams from Mexico and the Czech Republic, this tournament brought over 900 athletes to this citywide tournament in McAllen. The P.O.N.Y. International Softball World Series took place across five days and generated an economic impact of over $1.3 million for the city. P.O.N.Y. has agreed to host the second tournament in McAllen featuring teams from the United States and Mexico and the potential to host teams from Japan, Australia, Puerto Rico and the Czech Republic.

  Small Market 2022 Events  


The 2022 Grand Slam World Series of Baseball

Visit Panama City Beach

Location: Panama City Beach, Florida

Total Room Nights: 34,906

Total Economic Impact: $31.2 million

Over 6,000 players traveled in for this event and more than 120 different hotels/condominium properties were utilized in Panama City Beach, Florida. Additionally, more than 99 percent of the teams were from outside the market area. This event supported 5,000 jobs with direct spending of $20.8 million and had an economic impact of $31,223,334. Grand Slam Sports is the largest economic impact-producing sports event in Panama City Beach, Florida.


United States Fastpitch Association (USFA World Series)

Visit Panama City Beach

Location: Panama City Beach, Florida

Total Room Nights: 27,400

Total Economic Impact: $26 million

The USFA World Series, a girls’ fastpitch tournament for ages 8U-18U, uses more than 19 fields in the county. It takes place in July and this year, brought in 375 teams over two weeks. The event is seven days long and next summer will mark its 23rd year. Teams attended from a total of 16 states, including Colorado, Ohio, Oklahoma and Maryland. A local business, USFA started this tournament, and it has become part of the community. Many of the NCAA softball athletes viewers see on television have played in this tournament throughout the years.


Photo courtesy of Visit PCB/Michael Booini

2021 Visit Panama City Beach IRONMAN Florida
Part of VinFast IRONMAN US Series

Visit Panama City Beach

Location: Panama City Beach, Florida

Total Room Nights: 20,000

Total Economic Impact: $21 million

Athletes from 60 countries participated, and many set new course records. World Champion Gustav Iden set a course record of 7:42:57 in his full distance debut, adding a stunning 2:34:51 marathon to hold off the impressive field. The 140.6-mile competition incorporated the Gulf of Mexico, surrounding counties for the bike race and finished at Pier Park outdoor mall in what athletes and IRONMAN said was one of the best finishes in the world. While the average stay used for calculation was six days, many athletes stayed 12-15 days to train and recover.



National Little Britches Rodeo Association Finals 2022

Visit Edmond

Location: Guthrie, Oklahoma

Total Room Nights: 52,000

Total Economic Impact: $19.3 million

The National Little Britches Rodeo Association (NLBRA) is one of the fastest-growing youth rodeos in the nation, with the goal of helping to grow future legends of rodeo and providing scholarships. NLBRA promotes rodeo which includes sportsmanship, preserves Western heritage, encourages family bonding and continuing education and maintaining the highest regard for livestock. In 2022, the NLBRA, in partnership with the Lazy E Arena, Visit Guthrie and Visit Edmond, hosted 1,430 contestants from all over the country for seven days of competition.


Premier Girls Fastpitch Super Select Championship

City of Columbia

Location: Columbia, Tennessee

Total Room Nights: 85,000

Total Economic Impact: $10.3 million

Continuing a now annual tradition, the City of Columbia hosted Jeff MacDonald and Premier Girls Fastpitch for their Super Select Championship. This event was held over the course of three days at the Ridley Sports Complex and featured nearly 80 of the country’s best girls fastpitch softball teams with over 20 states represented. This outstanding event saw a massive impact to the local economy and is a tradition the city intends to continue for years to come.


Photo courtesy of Visit Oxford

2022 Mississippi Bombers Southeast Summer Invite

Visit Oxford

Location: Oxford, Mississippi

Total Room Nights: 4,928

Total Economic Impact: $6 million

The 2022 Bombers Southeast Summer Invite was a four-day event featuring 114 college level, elite fast pitch teams. Athletes traveled outside of the local community from all across the Southeast to play in this prestigious tournament. Oxford provides a unique atmosphere of small-town charm with award-winning restaurants and unique shopping while also being home to the University of Mississippi. The Bombers Southeast Sumer Invite provides a tremendous economic impact to Oxford and is a hallmark event on the mTrade Park tournament schedule each year.


Photo courtesy of Shores & Islands Ohio

IRONMAN 70.3 Ohio

Shores & Islands Ohio

Location: Sandusky, Ohio

Total Room Nights: 7,405

Total Economic Impact: $5.2 million

IRONMAN 70.3 Ohio brought over 1,500 athletes from 40 different states and two dozen countries who completed an unforgettable race experience that lasted more than eight hours. The race started with athletes jumping off the Kelleys Island Ferry docked at the Jackson Street Pier for a 1.2-mile swim in Lake Erie. The swim was followed by a fast, flat 56-mile bike through Erie County scenic rural rounds, and a 13.1-mile run through historic downtown Sandusky, all while surrounded by spectators in this exciting coastal race destination.


Photo courtesy of Gary Bassing, Greater Orlando Sports Commission

ECNL Girls Florida Regional League National Event
and ECNL Boys Florida National Event

Greater Orlando Sports Commission

Location: Sanford, Florida

Total Room Nights: 4,081

Total Economic Impact: $4.8 million

In 2017, ECNL launched the inaugural ECNL Boys season. Sanford, Florida was one the first cities to host an ECNL Boys National Event and will continue to host until 2023. In 2022, ECNL Girls launched the first-ever national event series for the ECNL Girls Regional League. Sanford, Florida was the first city to host an event in this event series. Competition takes place at Seminole Soccer Complex, Sylvan Lake Park and Boombah Sports Complex.


Photo courtesy of Snohomish United

2022 Snohomish United Bigfoot Soccer Tournament

Snohomish County Sports Commission

Location: Snohomish, Washington

Total Room Nights: 900

Total Economic Impact: $4.6 million

This is one of the largest youth annual soccer tournaments in Western Washington. In 2022, it had 312 teams, both boys and girls, U8-U19, from across Washington state competing over four days. Due to the location of Stocker Fields in the Snohomish Valley, the teams and spectators experience the great outdoors with the Cascade Mountains to the east and watch skydivers jump and land at Harvey Airport. Snohomish United promoted the tournament to soccer teams in Eastern Washington. This marketing effort brough teams from Spokane and Ellensburg.


Ripken Baseball
Photo courtesy of Ripken Baseball

Ripken Select Tournaments

Visit Panama City Beach

Location: Panama City Beach, Florida

Total Room Nights: 3,600

Total Economic Impact: $2.7 million

Ripken Baseball took its Ripken Select Tournaments to Publix Sports Park from June 5-10, 2022. For the first time in more than 20 years, Ripken Baseball tournaments were accessible to teams outside of Ripken Baseball-owned and operated facilities, creating a massive success. In partnership with Visit Panama City Beach, Ripken Baseball provided a big league experience for 50 teams and more than 700 participants. Based on the popularity of the first-time event, the weeklong tournament is scheduled to return to Panama City Beach in June 2023.


2021 Dick’s Sporting Goods USHL Fall Classic

Butler County Tourism and Convention Bureau

Location: Butler County, Pennsylvania

Total Room Nights: 3,357

Total Economic Impact: $2.5 million

The USHL held the 2021 Fall Classic in Cranberry Township of Butler County, Pennsylvania at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex. Seventeen USHL teams and 30 youth organizations participate in this national event, a great opportunity for scouts and fans to see future NCAA and NHL talent in one place. The UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex is a state-of-the-art athletics and sports medicine facility. Visitors from the US and Canada can easily access attractions, retail, dining and the city of Pittsburgh, just 20 minutes away.


Wakeboard Federation
Photo courtesy of International Waterski and Wakeboard Federation

IWWF World Waterski Championships

Greater Orlando Sports Commission

Location: Lake County, Florida

Total Room Nights: 2,087

Total Economic Impact: $2.5 million

The 2021 IWWF World Waterski Championships were hosted at Jack Travers Waterski School, a well-known venue and training facility. This championship waterski event featured three disciplines in each of the men’s and women’s categories and attracted 311 athletes, coaches and support staff to Central Florida. The athletes and teams traveled from all over the world, representing 34 countries. The event was held from October 12-17, 2021.


Photo courtesy of USA Archery


Decatur Morgan County Tourism

Location: Decatur, Alabama

Total Room Nights: 2,500

Total Economic Impact: $2.1 million

A total of 750 youth athletes, from eight to 20 years old, traveled to Decatur, Alabama to compete in recurve, compound, barebow and fixed pin divisions at the 2022 Junior Olympic Archery Development (JOAD) Target Nationals. The national event consists of a double 72-arrow qualification round, shot over two days; team rounds; and head-to-head match play (elimination rounds).


Photo courtesy of Ron Atkins

2022 Little League Senior Softball World Series

Little League International, Lower Sussex Little League

Location: Roxana Delaware

Total Room Nights: 1,260

Total Economic Impact: $2 million

Little League’s top senior softball (U16) teams gather in Roxana, Delaware for a week of softball that leads to the crowning of the World Series Champion. For 17 years, the pitching, fielding and batting excellence has been on display both at the ballpark and on ESPN.


Photo courtesy of ADWORX

Mardi Gras Mambo NCAA Softball Tournament

Youngsville Sports Complex

Location: Youngsville, Louisiana

Total Room Nights: 2,724

Total Economic Impact: $1.9 million

The Mardi Gras Mambo is a fast pitch softball tournament held during Mardi Gras at the Youngsville Sports Complex. The tournament is hosted by Southeastern Louisiana University and sponsored by Lafayette Convention and Visitors Commission. The city of Youngsville and Youngsville Sports Complex let teams experience Cajun culture, enjoy Cajun cuisine and music and ride in the Youngsville Mardi Parade, throwing beads to 50,000-plus spectators. A highlight this year was watching the UL Ragin’ Cajuns Softball as they took on Alabama Crimson Tide Softball.


Photo courtesy of Matchroom Pool

US Open Pool Championship

Atlantic City Sports Commission

Location: Atlantic City, New Jersey

Total Room Nights: 2,820

Total Economic Impact: $1.8 million

Matchroom is the world leader in hosting, promoting and broadcasting nine-ball pool. With a portfolio of major events headed by the Mosconi Cup, Matchroom stages the tournaments for the world’s best players. The US Open Pool Championship is pool’s longest-running major and was acquired by Matchroom Sport ahead of its 43rd staging. Propelled onto the global TV stage under Matchroom stewardship, the US Open Pool Championship now boasts a $375,000 prize fund with 256 players from around the world doing battle for the biggest singles title in 9-ball.


Photo courtesy of Elissa Breitenstein

Rocky Top Invitational

Rocky Top Sports World

Location: Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Total Room Nights: 2,514

Total Economic Impact: $1.6 million

Rocky Top Invitational is a boys’ grassroots basketball tournament presented by On The Radar Hoops. This premier event, held at Rocky Top Sports World, draws top talent from all over the country and is livestreamed by BallerTV. Rocky Top Invitational offers players great exposure to scouts. The 2022 event attracted 140 teams and more than 1,400 participants to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, making an economic impact of $1,636,790.


2022 OSSAA Class 5A/6A State Swimming Championship

Visit Edmond

Location: Edmond, Oklahoma

Total Room Nights: 450

Total Economic Impact: $1.4 million

The OSSAA 5A/6A State Swimming Championship is the largest high school swim meet in Oklahoma. In 2022, Edmond hosted over 900 Class 5A and Class 6A athletes. Support from Edmond Public Schools, Visit Edmond and local hotels and restaurants made this event possible. The Mitch Park YMCA & Edmond Aquatic Center, a state-of-the-art recreation center and competitive 50-meter swimming pool, was at capacity throughout the meet. Hosting the state swim meet at a central location such as Edmond made the event accessible to teams and families across the state.


Photo courtesy of Foley Sports Tourism

USA Gymnastics Region 8 Xcel Championships

Foley Sports Tourism

Location: Foley, Alabama

Total Room Nights: 4,951

Total Economic Impact: $1.4 million

Foley Sports Tourism (FST) made history by being the first in the state of Alabama to ever host the USA Gymnastics Region 8 Xcel Championships May 6-8 at the Foley Event Center. The event was a first for Alabama as well as a first for hosts Bama Bounders Gym in that it was the largest gymnastics event FST has ever seen. Foley Sports Tourism has been in existence less than 10 years and at the outset, events like this were a pipe dream for the event staff, which now has the privilege of making sports history for the state.

  Innovations in Sports Tourism  


Caribbean Volleyball Championships

Discover Puerto Rico

Location: San Juan, Puerto Rico

Total Room Nights: 1,500

Total Economic Impact: $3.6 million

The Caribbean Volleyball Championships is  a destination tournament for volleyball clubs from the United States, Canada and the Caribbean Region. There is a focus on the competitive experience with interactive player interviews, live broadcasts and top-notch awards ceremonies. Additional activities up the fun factor with sponsors’ activations at the event, fan zone and live shows at new entertainment center Distrito T Mobile, located near the complex. The event occurs amid vibrant San Juan City, promoting all it has to offer as a tourism destination.


 Erie Sports Commission
Photo courtesy of Erie Sports Commission

28th Annual Sarah Backstrom Memorial Tournament

Erie Sports Commission

Location: Erie, Pennsylvania

Total Room Nights: 3,613

Total Economic Impact: $2.4 million

The Backstrom is one of the longest-running all-girls youth hockey tournaments in the U.S. and Canada. After the tournament nearly disappeared, Lake Effect Hockey took it over and has grown it from 300 participants in 2019 to more than 1,100 in 2022, generating 10 times more economic impact than just three years prior.


Photo courtesy of USA BMX

USA BMX Legacy Nationals

Tulsa Sports Commission

Location: Tulsa, Oklahoma

Total Room Nights: 1,100

Total Economic Impact: $1.6 million

The 2022 USA BMX Legacy Nationals took place in Tulsa at the recently completed USA BMX Headquarters on the Hardesty National BMX Track. With the help of the Tulsa Sports Commission, USA BMX expertly executed this elite national championship in the heart of Tulsa’s historic Greenwood District. The event not only showcased the finest of BMX racing on the state-of-the-art course, but it also energized the host city. As a result of the event, Tulsa saw 1,751 visitors with 1,100 room nights sold and $888,889 in direct attendee spending.


National Homeschool Soccer Championship

Rutherford County Convention & Visitors Bureau

Location: Murfreesboro, Tennessee

Total Room Nights: 1,430

Total Economic Impact: $1.4 million

What started as a small regional competition comprised of 12 teams has now grown to be the premier national event for homeschool soccer. During its 16-year history, the NHSC has outgrown two soccer complexes and is now attracting over 1,000 high school age student athletes representing over 50 varsity teams from 14 states throughout the U.S. To accommodate its growing popularity, the NHSC collaborated with Rutherford County CVB and WayPoint Travel in 2021 to move its tournament to the spacious Richard Siegel Soccer Park in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.


The Coast Guard Marathon

Visit Elizabeth City

Location: Elizabeth City, North Carolina

Total Room Nights: 1,677

Total Economic Impact: $700,000

Visit Elizabeth City produced the first official U.S. Coast Guard road race. This event was the perfect opportunity to honor Elizabeth City’s USCG heritage while enhancing the destination. The race weekend included a two-day Health & Fitness Expo, 5K, Half and Full Marathons plus a post-race celebration complete with a USCG Search & Rescue demonstration. Runners even had the opportunity to run through USCG Base Elizabeth City. In-person runners traveled to the race from 46 different states and five countries.


Football Life
Photo courtesy of Flag Football Life

We Run The World Girls Flag Football Tournament

Valley Forge Sports Events & Tourism Authority

Location: Valley Forge, Pennsylvania

Total Room Nights: 600

Total Economic Impact: $500,000

This event was the world’s largest celebration of female athletes in flag football and provided opportunities for all levels of competition. This is also the only youth flag football tournament to provide college scholarship opportunities and recruiting at a collegiate level.

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