St. Paddy is Back and He’s Bringing the Green | Sports Destination Management

St. Paddy is Back and He’s Bringing the Green

Mar 02, 2023 | By: Mary Helen Sprecher

As the old saying goes, “Everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.” (That is, until Cinco de Mayo when they start claiming to be from Mexico.)

And yes, it’s official. Our quarantine days are behind us and we’re ready to celebrate, and even though most people couldn’t actually pick St. Patrick out of a lineup, he’s a great excuse for a party that involves green beer, green beads and the opportunity to consume enough of the former to engage in inadvisable activities in order to obtain the latter.

If you’re a sports event planner, then it’s an opportunity for, once again, tie-ins with one of the biggest party holidays of the year. This year, St. Paddy’s Day falls on a Friday (a big score for bars), although it’s likely that many Irish-themed sports events will be held on Saturday and Sunday, in order to avoid the crowding, congestion and parking difficulties, particularly in urban areas.

The public is already primed to spend money celebrating this holiday. According to statistics compiled by the National Retail Federation, more than 61 percent of all Americans plan to celebrate the holiday (up from 54 percent last year) and will spend $43.84 per person. Total spending is expected to reach $6.85 billion (also a big jump from 2022.) And whether it’s because St. Patrick’s is the first big holiday since Christmas and New Year’s or whether it’s because it signals the onslaught of spring (or even whether it just means a chance to down some Guinness), the historical spending for the holiday (and the festive mood it brings) is undoubtedly strong.

St. Paddy is back and he's bringing the greenThe tie-ins are plentiful for sports as well. There are pickleball tournaments (held in the evening of St. Patrick’s Day and throughout the weekend so as to capitalize on the festivities), lacrosse weekends, and of course (it is March, after all), plenty of basketball. Spring soccer also gets in on the action, with events like the St. Paddy's Day Invitational in Lakewood Ranch, Florida.

But if you want to get the common man involved and generate revenue, there’s really nothing like the bar crawl good old 5K. After all, it’s fun, it’s doable for most people and it can involve a whole community. In fact, it’s more than safe to say St. Patrick’s Day-themed races attract a lot of people who don’t normally step on a racecourse. (Ever. Period.) Running in the USA detailing events on each day of the year. There is a marked uptick in the number of 5Ks held the day after St. Patrick’s Day (Saturday, March 18.)

Themed races continue to be popular with crowds and St. Patrick’s Day running events are another part of this equation. Wearing green, dressing as a leprechaun, wearing kilts (or anything that might pass for a kilt) and more are all popular, particularly with those who run to be social. In other words, these races have outstanding potential for economic impact – or, if you will, to put green in organizers’ pockets.

Often, races accompany other events in cities, such as St. Patrick’s Day parades and festivals – and as a result, include a party component at the end. Many race fees cover the cost of a beer tent at the end, and if the event happens to be held in an area where eateries and bars are available, the potential for more widespread economic impact is there. Some races abandon all pretense of a fitness activity and publicize that they have “hydration stations” (The kind that involve beer.)

For those who want the more authentic experience, there are plenty of opportunities to try historic sports of the British Isles, including hurling, Gaelic football and camogie. The North American Gaelic Athletic Association, the national organization that promotes these activities, includes city and state chapters. The website includes a club locator so that event organizers, sports commissions and others can find a group in their area.

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