The Northeast - Another Can't Miss Destination
31 Dec, 2009By: Amy Henderson
With legendary teams like the New York Yankees, Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers, and New England Patriots, the Northeast Region has long been a sports mecca of the United States. Boasting over 110 Championship Titles in the NFL, NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball, sports is simply a way of life in the Northeast.
But this area isn't just about professional sports; education is one of the region's strongest legacies. There are 51 institutions of higher learning in Boston alone, and with multiple colleges and universities peppered throughout the Northeast, strong sports programs and world class venues are plentiful.
Tradition with a Twist
Northeast sports lean toward traditional with baseball, basketball, football and hockey ruling the roost. However, that's not to say there isn't room for a twist.
In 2008, the Senior PGA was held at the Oak Hill Country Club in Pittsford, New York and Monroe County hosted the USA Archery National Indoor Championships. In 2009, the U.S. Open Skeet Championships were held at the Rochester Brooks International Trap & Skeet Club in Rush, New York.
"We are mostly known for our youth and men's league hockey tournaments," said Scott Bell, Sales and Marketing manager of the Monroe County Sports Commission. "I think anytime you can attract a PGA Tournament it goes to show how the community can wrap around an event from a volunteer standpoint, to hotels and restaurants to support a big event."
Long Island is often considered a vacation playground for the rich and famous of the Northeast. But it's also a great destination for sporting events. Bethpage State Park in Farmingdale, New York hosted the U.S. Open Golf Championships in 2009, and the NCAA Lacrosse Semi-Finals will beheld at Stonybrook University in May 2010.
"I think a lot of people are unaware of the great facilities we have here," said Jennifer Rothman, Sports Sales manager for the Long Island Convention & Visitors Bureau. "We host a lot of tournaments and championships in every sport."
The same goes for Wicomico County in Maryland. "Hosting two wrestling tournaments successfully helped our numbers go up which is great," said Kate Roth of the Wicomico County Convention & Tourists Bureau.
The National Coaches High School Association Wrestling Duals were held in Salisbury, Maryland in 2007 and the Middle Atlantic Wrestling Association South Regionals in 2009 with 1,500 participants. The Delmarva Classic Tournament is slated for 500 athletes to take over the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center in Salisbury in January 2010.
Getting There is Half the Fun
Whether by plane, train or automobile, getting to the Northeast is half the fun. We are all realizing that in hard economic times it makes sense to condense family commitments with vacations - making sports destinations a win-win for everyone.
The Northeast provides ample resources for both. "We are a strong driving destination," said Patrick Lynch, executive director of Destination Worcester in Massachusetts. "We have 8 million people living within a 75 mile radius of Worcester. As far as being in New England and the Northeast, we are the most central destination and we are more accessible than other destinations."
Accessibility is also a selling point for Monroe County, "We are a mid-size market that has a lot of the amenities of a larger market," said Bell. "We have an international airport for easy access and our facilities compete with all markets from a quality standpoint as well as availability."
Proximity also works in favor of Huntingdon County, "We are fortunate that we are located within six hours of one-third on the United States," said Matt Price, executive director of Huntingdon CVB. "We are three hours from Washington, DC, Pittsburgh and Baltimore, four hours from Philadelphia, and five hours from New York City and Buffalo."
The same can be said for others throughout the Northeast. "One of our strongest assets is location," said Roth. "We are 30 minutes from Ocean City, Maryland and in a four-hour proximity to Virginia Beach, Philadelphia, New York and Washington, D.C."
So it's easy to get there, but what now?
Raystown Lake is an 8,300-acre reservoir and the largest inland lake in Pennsylvania that hosts over 95 bass tournaments yearly. They recently added a 32 mile single track mountain bike system. With 118 miles of shoreline and only 2 percent available for development the views are like no other.
"We have great location and scenery," said Price. "In general we are a great place to spend a vacation. With the opening of mountain bike trails we have seen an incredible amount of people that have spent long weekends. Traffic at Raystown Lake has increased 2 ¾ percent from 2008 until 2009 and our lodging revenue county wide is up 1 percent.
Twitter,Facebook and Partnerships
Marketing and advertising have changed dramatically recently. With social networking becoming more prevalent, more and more destinations are utilizing social networking sights to showcase their facilities, accommodations and areas to sports event planners.
"Right now we are very big with social media," said Rothman. "We're on Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn and meeting with contacts that we haven't met with in several years to get our name out."
Price concurred, "We are utilizing social media networking and marketing ourselves on Facebook and Twitter," he said. "We have also done print advertising and reaching out to the mountain biking community and received some incredible national recognition. We have already been named as one of the four best bike trails in North America in Men's Journal Magazine.
Marketing paid off for Worcester. "We are thrilled to have booked the Tyson American Cup. We are expecting 10,000 people for a one-day event that will be live on NBC and broadcast worldwide," said Lynch. "For us, that is exposure that we could not pay for."
The event will have over a 1 million dollar impact on the area with hotel occupancy, restaurants and tourism.
But success in marketing is also achieved through strategic alliances and partnerships.
The Alleghany Tourism Council is comprised of eight counties in south central Pennsylvania and also markets the Pennsylvania Association of Convention & Visitors Bureaus with a sports marketing cooperative.
Huntingdon County works with both. "We've seen positive returns," said Price. "This is a relatively new market for us. But volleyball has a lot of potential here. Central Pennsylvania has some nationally renowned volleyball towns."
So what's new in the oldest region in the United States?
It seems that the Northeast is due for some renovations. The Nassau County Coliseum is undergoing major renovations to include hotels, condominiums, shopping and dining. According to their website, the $3.74 billion project will also provide a multi-purpose athletic complex,exhibition facilities and a minor league ballpark over eight-10 years.
Hotels are also big business. "With Long Island, there are hotels building everywhere," said Rothman. "We have over 17,000 hotel rooms and every day we hear of a different hotel being developed."
Monroe County is seeing that same commitment to the area, "We have hotels that have certainly made a major commitment to downtown," said Bell. "The former Clarion Hotel Riverside is now Radisson Riverside - bearing a new flag as well as multi-million dollar renovations with excess of 400 rooms."
Traditional hotel rooms aren't the norm in Huntingdon County. There are 142 hotel rooms accompanied by 79 inn and resort rooms and 40 bed and breakfasts - only a drop in the bucket compared to 1,900 campsites within the county.
"This area also boasts a variety of vacation homes that run the gamut from a tree-house for two to a lodge for 30," explains Price. "A team could stay in one vacation home together. We are also the only place in Pennsylvania where you can rent a houseboat that can accommodate 10 people. It makes for the most fantastic vacation."
With ample accommodations, venues, recreation and breathtaking scenery, the Northeast is another "can't miss" destination.