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Introducing the 2020 and 2021 Champions of Economic Impact in Sports Tourism Presented by Traveling Teams

9 Nov, 2021

By: Mary Helen Sprecher

The rebound. We all waited for it, we all hoped for it, and now – finally – we all get to celebrate it.

But what, specifically, have we learned? Here’s one thing we learned: the prognosticators were right when they said the comeback of our industry would start at the local and regional level and blossom outward from there.

This did, in fact, come to pass. Success started at the grassroots level, and we celebrated each time. Smaller events meant more. Mid-sized events that saw several jurisdictions finding ways to compete were eye-opening. And the big events that brought athletes over state lines were suddenly downright miraculous. Why? Because all of them – every last one of them, from local competitions to national tournaments, and from youth to adult events – were proof of the strength of the industry.

In the past two years, we have seen sports events move forward not just by being smart and creative but by being downright gutsy. Event owners made late-breaking moves to destinations that could accommodate them and tweaked their formats to suit the parameters available. In some cases, event owners and destinations didn’t know from one day to the next whether the event could even go forward. And in many cases, their determination to make things happen outweighed the resistance they encountered from official channels. All the stories we heard told us about not just the desire for sports but the tenacity it took to put them on.

In the following pages, we celebrate it all. You will note we have grouped our winners according to not just the market size, but the year events were presented. We also have our Heroes of Sports Tourism category – and as you read through the winners of those events, you’ll understand why they earned that title.

In everyone’s entries, we saw courage in the face of the unknown, resilience in times of uncertainty and optimism that things would, someday, turn around. Nobody expected what we just faced, and nobody is happy we faced it, but we have all emerged stronger and more resilient from having done so. It’s time to honor our own for what they’ve confronted, what they’ve accomplished and most of all, what they symbolize.

Maybe in the past, we took for granted that our events would happen as planned. That is unlikely to happen again. We know more than we did – and we have taken that newfound knowledge and applied it to create stronger business models. Let’s never lose sight of how grateful we are for what we have and what we’ve overcome.

Congratulations to this year’s Champions of Economic Impact in Sports Tourism presented by Traveling Teams – and to everyone who played a part in putting them on.

LARGE MARKET 2020 EVENTS

Champions

Ascension Seton Austin Marathon presented by Under Armour

Austin Sports Commission

Location: Austin, Texas

Total Room Nights: 754

Total Economic Impact: $56.1 million

This 30-year-old marathon has a far-reaching reputation, attracting runners globally; in 2020, 35 countries and all 50 states were represented. The economic impact also continues to grow, but so does the impact of the marathon on the community. About 95 percent of spending is localized. High Five Events, which owns and directs the race, was founded in Austin, and loves to be part of an event that gives back.

 

MID-MARKET 2020 EVENTS

Champions

USA BMX Grand Nationals

Tulsa Sports Commission

Location: Tulsa, Oklahoma

Total Room Nights: 3,838

Total Economic Impact: $8.953 million

In 2020, USA BMX Grand Nationals took place in Tulsa Thanksgiving week as it has for the last 22 years. With the help of the Tulsa Sports Commission and Expo Square, USA BMX adapted to new ways of running their biggest race of the year, and unique celebrations came in the form of a one-race-only Pro Championship. 2020‘s track provided a fair yet challenging course that made for some of the best BMX racing ever witnessed. Racers, attendees and officials followed Tulsa Health Department protocols to ensure the event was carried out safely.

 

Champions

2020 USA BMX Gold Cup Championships Northeast

Akron BMX & Akron Summit CVB

Location: Akron, Ohio

Total Room Nights: 750

Total Economic Impact: $7 million

Despite challenges presented by the pandemic, Akron BMX was able to successfully host the 2020 USA BMX Gold Cup Championships Northeast in Akron, Ohio. Hosting this prestigious national event allowed the Akron BMX team to showcase their national-caliber course, and for the Akron Summit CVB to highlight the community’s diverse and inviting amenities to the 1,400 athletes, family members and spectators. With COVID-19 protocols in place, the racers were able to demonstrate their commitment to personal excellence and the gratification of healthy competition.

 

Champions

2020 Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Qualifier

Snohomish County Sports Commission

Location: Everett, Washington

Total Room Nights: 1,000

Total Economic Impact: $3.5 million

The 2020 Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Qualifier was held at the Angel Of The Winds Arena in Everett, Washington, February 7-8, 2020. Team USA consisted of Sofia Kenin, Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Coco Gauff, Serena Williams and Alison Riske. Team USA faced Team Latvia in three matches: 2 singles matches and 1 doubles match. A sold-out crowd of 6,230, on both Friday and Saturday, watched the two teams compete on the court.

 

Champions

2020 Camping World Maui Invitational

Asheville Buncombe Regional Sports Commission

Location: Asheville, North Carolina

Total Room Nights: 1,500-plus

Total Economic Impact: $1.57 million

The 2020 Camping World Maui Invitational was the only multi-team college basketball event to host its original field and have no positive COVID-19 cases. The tournament was able to develop health and safety protocols with state and local health officials and successfully showcased the ability to create a “bubble” environment in Asheville for top college programs to compete safely on a national stage. As a result of hosting this event, over 300 individuals were employed by the Harrrah’s Cherokee Center and two hotels were able to use a full staff.

 

Champions

Big 12 Wrestling Championships

Tulsa Sports Commission

Location: Tulsa, Oklahoma

Total Room Nights: 596

Total Economic Impact: $1.55 million

The Big 12 Wrestling Championships have taken place in Tulsa the past four years, bringing wrestlers, coaches and their fans to Tulsa from schools across the country. The tournament takes place at the BOK Center in the downtown Arena District, providing an exciting atmosphere that offers athletes and spectators convenient access to lodging, dining and more. The Big 12 Conference and the Tulsa Sports Commission ensured that this event proceeded safely uninterrupted in 2020, allowing these aspiring young athletes to continue pursuing their goals.

 

Champions

Lax Bash Gem City Lacrosse

Erie Sports Commission

Location: Erie, Pennsylvania

Total Room Nights: 500

Total Economic Impact: $1.16 million

When Lax Bash made its Erie debut in July 2020, it was the first sporting event hosted in Erie since the onset of the pandemic. Given that, the event planned for extensive safety measures: restructuring the flow of the event to reduce time spent on site, strict masking policies, and ensuring all state guidance was followed by working alongside local authorities. That planning paid off, as the first Gem City Tournament saw 60 teams participate, netting an estimated impact of $1.2 million. Lax Bash has since hosted three more tournaments in Erie.

 

Champions

47th Annual Kansas Shrine Bowl

Visit Topeka, Hummer Sports Park U.S.D. 501,

Arab Shrine, Shawnee County

Location: Topeka, Kansas

Total Room Nights: 1,666

Total Economic Impact: $1 million

During July of 2020, the 47th Annual Kansas Shrine Bowl faced the potential cancellation of the long-played game, which pits high school seniors from across Kansas in an East/West rivalry all benefiting the Shriners Hospitals. Luckily, Hummer Sports Park stepped up to the challenge of hosting the game and Parrish Hotels helped to provide hotel rooms and create a “bubble” for players. Even under the threat of a shutdown from the State of Kansas, this game was safely played, attended, and ultimately a success, keeping the tradition of football alive in Kansas.

 

Champions

2020 ACO World Championship of Cornhole

Experience Columbia SC Sports

Location: Columbia, South Carolina

Total Room Nights: 782

Total Economic Impact: $550,133

Considering the state of the world in July 2020 and how much had been accomplished in just a month of being open, this event went beyond expectations. People traveled from over 20 states and stayed an average of five nights, with over 75 percent of attendees being from outside the State of South Carolina. Having an economic impact of over $550,000 and generating almost 800 verified hotel room nights was not only a huge shot in the arm for local businesses, but it also proved that it was possible to host a safe event during the pandemic.

 

SMALL-MARKET 2020 EVENTS

Champions

Amateur Baseball Championships  

Bullpen Tournaments

Location: Grand Park Sports Campus; Westfield, Indiana

Total Room Nights: 7,827

Total Economic Impact: $30.53 million

The Amateur Baseball Championships (ABC) were back at Grand Park in 2020. The six-week series hosted over 700 teams from over 20 states. Teams started in pools of four, with three games on days one and two, then were regrouped into either a Gold, Silver or Bronze Pool. Teams then played two more pool play games on days three and four. Each gold, silver, and bronze pool winners advanced to a single elimination, winner take all bracket. Despite COVID’s challenges, the ABCs were a shining moment in what was otherwise a difficult year.

 

Champions

2020 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit at Lake Erie

Ohio’s Lake Erie Shores & Islands and City of Sandusky

Location: Sandusky, Ohio

Total Room Nights: 1,638

Total Economic Impact: $2.53 million

In 2020, Major League Fishing had to seek new tournament hosts after some events were cancelled due to COVID-19 state mandates. Through quick planning with the City of Sandusky and Lake Erie Shores & Islands, several MLF tournaments relocated to Sandusky including the sixth and final regular-season event – the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit at Lake Erie. This lucrative bass fishing Super Tournament featured nearly 200 anglers competing for a top award of $160,000. The tournament provided much-needed estimated economic impact for the region.

 

Champions

US Open of Grass Volleyball Waupaca Boatride Tournament

Oshkosh Convention and Visitors Bureau

Location: Oshkosh, Wisconsin

Total Room Nights: 300

Total Economic Impact: $1.5 million

The Waupaca Boatride Volleyball Tournament is the largest outdoor volleyball event in the nation, held every July with over 2,000 teams nationwide competing in multiple divisions over the four-day festival. The tournament consists of 26 sand courts for sand divisions and over 320 grass courts with divisions of play for all skill levels. Many local schools groups and other charities help out throughout the weekend as a fundraiser for their programs. The event is held at Brighton Acres with the help of the Oshkosh Convention and Visitors Bureau.

 

Champions

Coastal Academy Cup

Snap Soccer & Foley Sports Tourism

Location: Foley, Alabama

Total Room Nights: 1,811

Total Economic Impact: $1.47 million

While Foley Sports Tourism boasts a packed fall calendar, Coastal Academy Cup is hands down the largest event, drawing hundreds of youth soccer teams from around the nation. Additionally, the timing of the event allows visitors to do some holiday shopping during their off time. Because November is an unlikely time for beach tourism, the area experiences a significant bump from events that come to town. Hotels that experienced vacancies prior to the inception of Foley Sports Tourism are now often at capacity, especially during Coastal Academy Cup.

 

Champions

Kohl’s Kicking National Elite & Invitational Scholarship Camps

Rocky Top Sports World

Location: Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Total Room Nights: 1,856

Total Economic Impact: $1.28 million

Kohl’s Kicking Camps provides the biggest stage for specialists in America – their evaluations are the gold standard nationwide. In a year where there was uncertainty if this camp would occur, Rocky Top Sports World, in combination with the great staff at Kohl’s Kicking, made the event possible while having record attendance. The timeliness of this event was extremely impactful for the community, bringing individuals from 45 states and acting as a catalyst for Gatlinburg and Sevier County to show that people could come to the area safely.

 

Champions

NC LaxFest

Visit Goldsboro

Location: Goldsboro, North Carolina

Total Room Nights: 821

Total Economic Impact: $939,624

NC LaxFest is one of the largest youth lacrosse tournaments in North Carolina for both girls and boys. The event started in Raleigh, but in 2020, LaxFest had to pivot just like the rest of the world. Only having three weeks to prepare, Goldsboro was selected to host the tournament at the Bryan Multi-Sports Complex, attracting 6,000 visitors and generating over $900,000 of visitor spending during one of the most difficult years for the tourism industry. Goldsboro is now the proud host city for both the girls' and boys' youth tournaments.

 

Champions

Swamp Nationals Softball Tournament

City of Broussard

Location: Broussard, Louisiana

Total Room Nights: 1,392

Total Economic Impact: $813,050 

In November 2020, the Broussard Sports Complex at St. Julien Park hosted the Swamp Nationals Softball Tournament, a showcase of elite talent organized by Cowart Sports Events. Fifty-five teams travelled to Broussard, Louisiana from all over the state plus Texas, Mississippi and Arkansas. What made this event unique is that it was held during stringent COVID-19 protocols and at a time when participating states had not lifted restrictions to allow tournaments.

 

Champions

2020 ISSA Midwest USA Championships

Twin Cities Gateway

Location: Coon Rapids, Minnesota

Total Room Nights: 300

Total Economic Impact: $457,272

This 2020 event drew over 400 senior players from six states to the Sand Creek Sports Complex. It was the first sports event to return to the fields after the March pandemic closures. It was also ISSA’s first event since the pandemic shutdown. The early success of the ISSA Midwest USA Championships at Coon Rapids surely led other park districts to open their outdoor recreation facilities. The three-headed monster of ISSA, Twin Cities Gateway and Coon Rapids put sports back on the map in Minnesota and put on a fantastic event for players and fans.

 

Champions

Bounders Beach Bash

Foley Sports Tourism & The Bama Bounders

Location: Foley, Alabama

Total Room Nights: 348

Total Economic Impact: $236,185

The Bounders Beach Bash was the first USA Gymnastics-sanctioned competition post pandemic. After having to cancel a number of meets, gymnastics gyms, including The Bama Bounders, needed a path to economic recovery. While the 2020 event was smaller than previous years, it also brought a much-needed shot in the arm for Foley’s tourism-heavy economy. Additionally, it showed other destinations how to begin bringing back gymnastics events. The economic impact of this event went far beyond Foley; it helped pave the way for the return of gymnastics as a whole.

 

Champions

Secret City Half Marathon & 5K

Explore Oak Ridge

Location: Oak Ridge, Tennessee

Total Room Nights: 150

Total Economic Impact: $50,000

Despite a difficult year with lockdowns and event cancellations, Explore Oak Ridge found a way to safely host this event and welcome participants from 20 states and two countries. Both races showcase Oak Ridge during the fall season by running past Melton Lake Waterfront, a rock quarry and the “Secret City” founded during WWII. With unique medals and distinct race shirts, organizers love to provide an unforgettable experience for all, and noted it was a joy to offer a safe, live race to participants after the tough year 2020 brought to everyone.

 

Champions

Twin City Marathon

Monroe-West Monroe Convention and Visitors Bureau

Location: Monroe-West Monroe, Louisiana

Total Room Nights: 100

Total Economic Impact: $40,602

In March of 2020 when the governor of Louisiana announced his stay-at-home order, organizers of the event asked themselves, “Would the world be ready to run a marathon in November of that same year?” The Twin City Marathon committee implemented safety and health protocols, capped enrollment at 300 participants – and sold out. The Twin City Marathon rolled on November 8 with 19 states represented, brought in $46,000 and was the only full marathon in the state after COVID. The course is USA Track & Field certified and is a Boston Marathon qualifier.

 

LARGE-MARKET 2021 EVENTS

Champions

48th AAU Junior National Volleyball Championships

Visit Orlando

Location: Lake Buena Vista, Florida

Total Room Nights: 142,000

Total Economic Impact: $173.2 million

Marking the largest event to date hosted at the Orange County Convention Center (OCCC), the Amateur Athletic Union’s (AAU) 48th AAU Junior National Volleyball Championships welcomed more than 135,000 participants to Orlando, Florida across two weeks, from June 17-29, 2021, creating an estimated economic impact of $173.3 million for the region. It was the largest event held nationally in the convention industry since the pandemic began, with appropriate health and safety protocols implemented across the North, South and West Concourses of OCCC.

 

Champions

55th AAU Junior Olympic Games

Harris County Houston Sports Authority

Location: Houston, Texas

Total Room Nights: 7,947-plus

Total Economic Impact: $53 million

The 55th edition of the AAU Junior Olympic Games brought 15,000 participants to the Houston, Texas area. The 11-day event featured 10 different sport competitions, including the AAU’s marquee track and field event, which included 12,345 total participants and saw 33 AAU national records broken. Other sports were baton twirling, field hockey, jump rope, karate, pickleball, sport stacking, swimming, taekwondo and trampoline and tumbling. The event began in 1967, is the largest multi-sport event in the United States and is held in a different city each year.

 

Champions

2021 NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship

San Antonio Sports

Location: San Antonio, Texas

Total Room Nights: 37,000

Total Economic Impact: $27 million-plus

In 2021, the NCAA elected to hold its entire championship in San Antonio. The local organizing committee (San Antonio Sports, Visit San Antonio, the City of San Antonio and host institutions, UIW and UTSA), worked with the NCAA and local health authorities to implement a controlled environment and crown a National Champion. The event contributed significantly to San Antonio’s hospitality and tourism industry. Hotel partners, bus companies, restaurants, volunteers, team hosts and downtown attractions worked to bring a championship experience to all 64 teams.

 

MID-MARKET 2021 EVENTS

Champions

World Equestrian Center Winter Spectacular  

Ocala Marion County Visitors and Convention Bureau

Location: Ocala, Florida

Total Room Nights: 28,882

Total Economic Impact: $37.1 million

World Equestrian Center Winter Spectacular is a 12-week long hunter jumper horse show competition. The event is sanctioned by the National Snaffle Bit Association (NSBA) and there is $4 million in prize money at stake for the competitors.

 

Champions

Elite Club National League (ECNL)

Greensboro Convention & Visitors Bureau

Location: Greensboro, North Carolina

Total Room Nights: 17,450

Total Economic Impact: $11,86 million

Bryan Park Soccer Complex hosted the inaugural Elite Club National League (ECNL) boys, 13-19, playoff soccer championships in 2021. 270-plus teams from across the United States came to Greensboro for seven days of match play. Bryan Park features 18 immaculate Bermuda grass fields, two artificial turf fields, Macpherson Stadium which can accommodate 3,000 spectators, locker rooms and concession facilities. Greensboro is event-driven and is well suited for events of all sizes. Greensboro is a convenient destination by plane, car or rail.

 

Champions

Minto US OPEN Pickleball Championships

Powered by Margaritaville

Collier County Convention and Visitors Bureau

Location: Naples, Florida

Total Room Nights: 3,300

Total Economic Impact: $9.4 million

“The Biggest Pickleball Party in the World” was held in Naples, Florida. Over 2,100 athletes participated and over 25,000 spectators traveled from around the world to play, eat, drink and just have some good ol’ pickleball fun. Local restaurants and retail shops were the real winners as fans flooded all dining and shopping establishments. The common theme of the week was people “Having the Time of Their Life.” Naples is the Pickleball Capital of the World and is not only host to the US OPEN but also the ideal destination for pickleball enthusiasts year-round.

 

Champions

MLK Kickoff Challenge & Showcase

Discover Lancaster

Location: Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Total Room Nights: 6,000-plus

Total Economic Impact: $7.8 million

Discover Lancaster, in partnership with 3Step Sports, Spooky Nook Sports and the Lancaster County Convention Center, annually hosts the MLK Kickoff Challenge. This is the tournament’s 13th year in Lancaster. In 2020, the tournament hosted 557 teams and over 12,000 spectators in central Pennsylvania for a competitive weekend of volleyball.

 

Champions

2021 Perfect Game Fall National Championship

Protected by G-Form

City of Surprise - Sports & Tourism

Location: Surprise, Arizona

Total Room Nights: 2,931

Total Economic Impact: $5.79 million

2021 Perfect Game Fall National Championship was the culmination of a series of Perfect Game events that the City of Surprise hosted between 2020 and 2021. This event stands out because the planning elements began back in October of 2020, during the pandemic. The collaboration between Perfect Game and the City of Surprise has evolved significantly over the past two years. The continued commitment that both groups had to working together and changing events in order to continue baseball as an outlet for the athletes was remarkable in itself.

 

Champions

Spirit Brands Cheerleading and Dance Championships

Wildwood Convention Center

Location: Wildwood, New Jersey

Total Room Nights: 1,300

Total Economic Impact: $2.4 million

Spirit Brands worked hand-in-hand with John Lynch and the Wildwoods Convention Center to get the convention center ready to host, followed health and safety precautions and ultimately, put on an event that allowed for safe competition. The event brought athletes and their families who stayed in hotels, shopped in the stores and on the boardwalk and enjoyed restaurants and eateries. The event was critical to athletes, their families and the town, bringing people together and bringing back normalcy.

 

Champions

2021 International Ice Hockey Federation U18 Men’s World Championship

Visit Frisco

Location: Frisco, Texas

Total Room Nights: 3,900

Total Economic Impact: $2.1 million

The International Ice Hockey Federation U18 Men’s World Championship is one of the sport’s signature events and features players from the top hockey nations in the world competing for a gold medal and world champion title. The event is a hotbed for NHL scouts, as a large percentage of players in the tournament will hear their names called in the next NHL Draft. The 2021 World Championship faced challenges but with regular testing of participants and other safety initiatives, the tournament went off without a hitch in front of fans at Comerica Center.

 

Champions

TBF High School Fishing World Finals and National Championship

Visit Anderson

Location: South Carolina

Total Room Nights: 8,289

Total Economic Impact: $2 million-plus

The TBF High School Fishing World Finals and National Championship featured high school anglers from around the globe. The four-day event included 398 fishing teams comprised of two anglers and a boat captain. Teams competed for scholarship monies and the right to be called a World Champion and National Champion.

 

Champions

NXL Mid Atlantic Major

Valley Forge Sports

Location: Limerick, Pennsylvania

Total Room Nights: 2,400

Total Economic Impact: $2 million

The First NXL Paintball Major of 2021, the NXL Mid Atlantic Major was played on a refurbished farm in a scenic part of Montgomery County. With more than 3,000 spectators – the highest attended event of the year – and 2,400 room nights, the event provided $2 million in positive economic impact.

 

Champions

USA Hockey 2021 Chipotle Youth Hockey National Championships (Youth Tier II 16U) 

West Michigan Sports Commission

Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan

Total Room Nights: 2,586

Total Economic Impact: $1.916 million

The second USA Hockey national championship in Grand Rapids, Michigan, was one of the region’s first large tourism events since COVID and one of its largest national sports events in 2021, attracting 640 athletes on 32 teams from 30 states filling 2,586 room nights. While spectator travel was restricted due to COVID versus a typical year (only family attended), it still attracted 800 spectators and generated $1,916,581 in visitor spending. Despite COVID challenges, it was a safe and successful event that made USA Hockey proud.

 

Champions

USCAA Small College World Series

City of DuBois and Visit Clearfield County

Location: DuBois, Pennsylvania

Total Room Nights: 4,200

Total Economic Impact: $1.26 million

The USCAA Small College World Series made an impact on not only the City of DuBois and Clearfield County, but also on the USCAA. The event was such a success that the USCAA signed a five-year extension. The business model has proven to be a stable economic impact generator for not only years, but decades to come. Prior to the championship, the City of DuBois hosted one or two major championships or tournaments in a year. The exposure and success of this event created awareness and commitments by many other organizations to host their championships in DuBois.

 

Champions

2021 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II Men’s and Women’s Tennis Championships

City of Surprise - Sports & Tourism

Location: Surprise, Arizona

Total Room Nights: 207

Total Economic Impact: $585,661

This event saw the winning teams from the eight regional tournaments advance to Surprise, Arizona to vie for the National Championship in Division II Tennis. The NCAA, the City of Surprise Sports and Tourism along with federal, state and local health agencies developed a COVID-19 Mitigation Plan to provide a safe and responsible tournament experience for all those in attendance. This championship event had many different requirements that also kept evolving over the period of both weekends of the tournaments and still the event was incredibly successful.

 

Champions

North American Spirit Tournament Sponsored by Spirit Brands

The Wildwoods Convention Center

Location: Wildwood, New Jersey

Total Room Nights: 500-plus

Total Economic Impact: $300,000

Spirit Brands worked diligently with John Lynch and the Wildwoods Convention Center and because of their combined efforts, the tournament went off on March 6, 2021, exactly a year after the last event. Spirit Brands ran one event every weekend until May 17. Awards were presented virtually in the beginning but with better weather and fewer restrictions, were given outdoors. Each event brought athletes and their parents to the island and allowed some form of normalcy, letting athletes get back to their sport and show off their skills to parents and friends.

 

SMALL-MARKET 2021 EVENTS

Champions

Amateur Baseball Championships

Bullpen Tournaments

Location: Grand Park Sports Campus; Westfield, Indiana

Total Room Nights: 15,167

Total Economic Impact: $53 million

The Amateur Baseball Championships (ABC), one of the nation’s premier summer events, returned to Grand Park in 2021 with over 250 college schools coaches in attendance. The six-week series hosted over 750 teams from over 22 states. Teams started in pools of four with three pool play games on days one and two. Then teams were re-pooled into either a Gold Pool, Silver Pool, or Bronze Pool. Teams then played two more pool play games on days three and four. Gold, silver, and bronze pool winners advanced to a single elimination, winner takes all, bracket.

 

Champions

2021 Grand Slam World Series of Baseball

Visit Panama City Beach

Location: Panama City Beach, Florida

Total Room Nights: 34,616

Total Economic Impact: $22.3 million

Now in its 17th year, the Grand Slam Tournaments Baseball World Series brings teams from Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Tennessee, Alabama, Kentucky, Virginia and South Carolina. Grand Slam sanctions 1,600 teams and the four weeklong summer World Series events in 2021 had 544 total baseball teams with over 24,000 visitors. This represented an increase of 134 percent (312 teams) over 2020. The event takes place across 19 fields in Bay County at Frank Brown Park and PCB Sports Complex.

 

Champions

Crossroads of America College Showcase

Indiana Fire Juniors

Location: Grand Park Sports Campus; Westfield, Indiana

Total Room Nights: 9,264

Total Economic Impact: $19.82 million

The 2021 Crossroads of America Showcases were the first large showcase events in the COVID era. The staff of Indiana Fire Juniors and Grand Park took extraordinary measures to ensure the 5,200 athletes and 35,000 spectators could safely attend. Participants were able to show off their talents in front of college coaches. Crossroads is particularly significant considering Westfield’s population of approximately 40,000. The event, a fixture on teams’ calendars, requires more than 280 volunteers and a full contingent of staff to execute.

 

Champions

Edmond Soccer Club Beat the Heat

Visit Edmond

Location: Edmond, Oklahoma

Total Room Nights: 6,500

Total Economic Impact: $4.8 million

The Edmond Soccer Club hosted 256 Teams for the 27th annual Beat the Heat soccer tournament August 13-15, 2021. Competitive teams and youth academy teams competed at the tournament. Play was offered in divisions for U7 - U10 youth academy and for competitive divisions, U11-U19, boys and girls. Around half of the teams were coming in from out of town, including teams from around the state, as well as Texas and Arkansas. The previous year, the event hosted 212 teams.

 

Champions

Jimmy Johnson’s Atlantic City “Quest for the Ring” Championship Fishing Week

Atlantic City Sports Commission

Location: Atlantic City, New Jersey

Total Room Nights: 3,970

Total Economic Impact: $3.057 million

Jimmy Johnson’s Atlantic City “Quest for the Ring” Championship Fishing Week held its inaugural event in Atlantic City in summer 2021. The team at Fish Hard Events put a whole new spin on how fishing tournaments are done. The event also does a lot for conservation, which is what makes it so special. They release about 50 percent or more of the fish and have minimum sizes. Not to mention, the $3 million in economic impact and the celebrity names that are connected to the tournament have been a tremendous buzz within the media and community.

 

Champions

Premier Girls Fastpitch Super Select Championship

City of Columbia

Location: Columbia, Tennessee

Total Room Nights: 2,500

Total Economic Impact: $1.8 million

Showcasing the best youth fastpitch softball teams in the nation, Premier Girls Fastpitch events are held in the highest regard. As a result, the chosen venues, their quality, and commitment to excellence must meet and match that level of play as Ridley Sports Complex did. Behind hard work, thoughtful planning and high standards (including the obvious stringent health guidelines) this event was an enormous success and can serve as a template for other national events and will be developed into a multi-week sports tourism event in 2022.

 

Champions

DBB Inc. (Dixie Boys Baseball) 65th World Series

Discover Monroe-West Monroe

Location: Monroe, Louisiana

Total Room Nights: 3,950

Total Economic Impact: $1.649 million

Discover Monroe-West Monroe hosted all five of the 2021 DBB, Inc. World Series Championship tournaments on July 21-28 at the Sterlington Sports Complex and the University of Louisiana at Monroe’s University Park. The age divisions were Junior Boys (age 13), Dixie Boys (age 14), 15U (age 15), Pre-Majors (age 15-17), and Dixie Majors (age 17-19). This was the first time all divisions of DBB played for the championship title at the same time and location. The Discover Monroe-West Monroe team, along with community partners, gave the baseball players and their family a true taste of Louisiana culture.

 

Champions

UCO Endeavor Games

Visit Edmond

Location: Edmond, Oklahoma

Total Room Nights: 4,780

Total Economic Impact: $1.137 million

The Endeavor Games for athletes with physical disabilities began in 2000 on the University of Central Oklahoma campus and is now regarded as one of the nation’s largest competitions of its kind. The UCO Endeavor Games provides a memorable experience that is both fun and competitive with a unique theme and medals each year, three special events throughout the weekend and 11 sports offered to 250 athletes of all ages and all skill levels.

 

Champions

Bombers Southeast Summer Invite

Visit Oxford

Location: Oxford, Mississippi

Total Room Nights: 1,660

Total Economic Impact: $865,100

The 2021 Mississippi Bombers Southeast Invite hosted by mTrade Park and Visit Oxford was a three-day, college level, showcase tournament with 99 fast pitch teams. Teams traveled from across the Southeast to play at the prestigious mTrade Park. Oxford provides a unique atmosphere of small-town charm with award-winning restaurants and fine shopping and is home to the University of Mississippi. The Mississippi Bombers Southeast Summer Invite provides a tremendous economic impact to Oxford and is a hallmark event on the mTrade Park tournament schedule each year.

 

Champions

2021 Little League Softball World Series®

Play Greenville NC Sports, City of Greenville NC,

Greenville Little League

Location: Greenville, North Carolina

Total Room Nights: 1,483

Total Economic Impact: $857,946

The 2021 Little League Softball World Series was an absolute success, hosted for the first time in Greenville, North Carolina at Stallings Stadium and Elm Street Park. The event brought the community together and businesses, residents, local government, and community leaders alike rallied behind the event. Everyone involved with this event made it special not only for the community, but for the athletes participating. With Greenville as the new home of the Little League Softball World Series, more success is expected.

 

SPORTS TOURISM HEROS

Champions

GFNY Florida Sebring

Visit Sebring

Location: Sebring, Florida

Total Room Nights: 1,286

Total Economic Impact: $655,000

New York-based GFNY held their third U.S. event in Sebring in October 2020. The event attracted 700 cyclists and their families to Sebring for at least one night during a non-peak tourist month. This was the inaugural Sebring event. The event brought additional economic activity to the area during the COVID pandemic and helped align Sebring with a brand that is recognized internationally in the cycling sport while bolstering the recognition of Sebring as a tourist destination.

Heroic: Due to COVID 19, the GFNY event organizers were stuck in Italy for most of 2020 and planned the event from overseas.

 

Champions

2020 MHSAA Swim State Championship North-Half State Swim Championship

Tupelo Convention and Visitors Bureau

Location: Tupelo, Mississippi

Total Room Nights: 800

Total Economic Impact: $200,000

With Tupelo Aquatic Center’s first-class facility, support from the Tupelo Convention & Visitors Bureau and MHSAA, and a host of great restaurants and hotels, Tupelo was an ideal destination to host the 2020 MHSAA Swim State Championship. The top swimmers in Mississippi competed over a spread of days and splitting divisions to eliminate large crowds and following all CDC and local guidelines. For this championship, TCVB created a Swimmer’s Perk Program in which local restaurants and retailers could offer incentives and discounts while visiting Tupelo.

Heroic: Despite hosting this event during the pandemic, there was a 5 percent growth over 2019.

 

Champions

Coastal Half Marathon & 5K

Gulf Shores | Orange Beach Sports & Events

Location: Orange Beach, Alabama

Total Room Nights: 275

Total Economic Impact: $125,107

The Coastal Half Marathon takes place the Saturday after Thanksgiving. In normal years, the event includes a 5K run and 1-mile fun run. In 2020, GSOB Sports & Events and Team Magic mitigated the spread of COVID-19 by eliminating the fun run and post-race party, implementing drive-up packet pick-up, staggering race starts, drive-up temperature checks and contactless awards pick-up. (NOTE: The event is owned and operated by GSOB Sports & Events, produced by Team Magic, and in conjunction with the city of Orange Beach and Gulf State Park).

Heroic:The event was successfully held less than three months after Hurricane Sally.

 

Champions

2021 Kayak Open Disc Golf Tournament

Snohomish County Sports Commission

Location: Stanwood, Washington

Total Room Nights: 125

Total Economic Impact: $86,103

Kayak Point Open was the largest disc golf tournament in Washington State in 2021. Over 310 participants competed in the two-day tournament, traveling from 14 states. The tournament was one of the 10 Professional Disc Golf Association’s PacEx cup. The disc golfers played on two courses: Gold and Red. The Gold Course is a pro level course that plays on old fairways with some wooded shots, extra-long distances, and technical lines. The Red Course is for beginner to intermediate players that plays on mostly open fairways.

Heroic:The venue was a golf course that is now being converted to a disc golf course, thanks to the popularity of the sport in the area.

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