The Pacific Coast - A Destination Ready for Any Sport, Anytime
30 Apr, 2009By: Amy Henderson
The Pacific Coast has something for everyone. There are mountains for winter sports, endless coastline for water sports and plenty of world-class facilities to choose from. Take all this and combine it with breathtaking scenery and mild temperatures for outdoor competitions and you have an ideal location for any sports event.
Mother Nature is on Their Side
With an average of 300 days of sunshine each year in some spots, the area lends itself as a destination ready for anything anytime of year. "We have very mild winters and tournament season can begin a lot earlier," said Janice Heitschmidt, director of sports sales with Tri-Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau. "The weather is a big draw; sports complexes can get started much earlier."
Wenatchee, Washington leverages the climate and excellent outdoor facilities to its advantage in the sports market. "We are east of the Cascade Mountains, so essentially, we are geographically the center of the state of Washington," explains Eric Granstrom, sports council director of the Wenatchee Valley Sports Council. "Our location allows for the inclement weather to stay on the west side of the state. We also have amazing outdoor facilities that are extremely inexpensive and we have access to those fields free of charge which helps our sports market immensely."
Choose From a Plethora of Facilities
The West Coast, or Pacific region, is home to several notable professional and collegiate sports teams that include the Los Angeles Lakers, Seattle Mariners, San Francisco 49ers, UCLA Bruins, Washington State Cougars and University of Oregon Ducks. With such an abundance of high-profile teams and athletes in the region there is also a plethora of facilities and venues to choose from. Sure there is the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Safeco Field in Seattle and Oracle Arena in San Francisco, but venues of lesser size are plentiful all along this region as well.
Notable venues include The Regional Sports Center in Eugene, Oregon, which is one of the largest facilities in the northwest for basketball and volleyball. The Toyota Center in Kennewick, Washington has seating for over 6,000 and the Town Toyota Center in Wenatchee, Washington is the home of the North American Hockey League's Wenatchee Wild and leads the league in attendance.
That's not to say the area is resting on its laurels and relaxing. There are plenty of projects in development or in the works. "We are in the process of the developing a sports village," said Don Cohen, manager of the Bakersfield Convention & Visitors Bureau. "The village would include 16 soccer fields, 12 baseball fields, six football fields, and a community center. Our goal is to develop this project over the next five years."
That rings true for Eugene, Oregon as well. "The development of the Matthew Knight Arena on campus of the University of Oregon is sure to provide resources outside of university athletics," said Janis Ross, director of sports sales with the Convention & Visitors Association of Lane County. "It would be ideal for gymnastics, dance and cheer competitions," said Ross. The arena will have 385,000 square feet and seating for 12,500 and is slated to open in early 2011.
Variety is the Spice of Sports Life
Eugene, Oregon is better known as Track Town USA, the Running Capital of the World or as the Home of Nike so it stands to reason it hosts national and international track and field events.
"We have built our sports legacy on track and field," said Ross. "We are a great sports town. We have the outdoor resources so close to a metro area making us a great location."
It also gives the Pacific region the opportunity to expand into a variety of sports like cycling, rowing, swimming, wrestling, volleyball, softball, biking and BMX competitions.
"The number-one sport that comes here is softball," said Granstrom. Wenatchee attributes 1.3million dollars in direct economic impact for the Wenatchee community from softball tournaments alone.
Bakersfield, California was recently awarded the California Interscholastic Federation State Championship Wrestling tournament until 2012. Bakersfield has hosted this tournament since 2004 and the event draws over 500 athletes and 20,000 spectators over two days with an economic impact of close to 2 million dollars for the community. Bakersfield will also host the 2009 BMX Western National in May with 2100 riders participating.
The City of Federal Way, Washington is well known within the swimming community. The King County Aquatics Center is one of only four Olympic-quality training centers in the country and has hosted NCAA competitions and Olympic Trials.
"We are known for our excellent facilities," said Lillian Yeh, economic development assistant of the City of Federal Way. "Our pool is deeper and we are one of the fastest pools in the country. There is an underground observation booth which has been terrific for coaches and members of the media and we are totally ready for media broadcasts."
Lake County Oregon is also expanding and attracting sandboarding competitions. Sand Master Park is the world's first sandboard park and consists of 40 acres of private sand dunes giving this emerging sport a place to call home. With 14,000 sandboarders in the United States alone, Sand Master Park provides sculpted dunes, chutes, bowls, rail slides, fun boxes and jump ramps for those athletes to hone their skills.
Partnerships and Marketing
With the many benefits the Pacific region offers, it stands to reason that partnerships are being created to help market the development of emerging areas and create compelling proposals to draw sports events.
The Los Angeles Sports Council acts as a resource for facilities to help secure large events for the area. "The focus of the sports council is on elite athletic events," said David Simon, President of the Los Angeles Sports Council. "There is no statewide organization for sports. Other teams tend to look to us in developing partnerships."
It's obviously working. The finals of the World Baseball Classic Finals took place at Dodger Stadium in March; the World Figure Skating Championships were held at the Staples Center also in March and the Breeders Cup World Championship is slated to run at Santa Anita Park in November.
"We are blessed with a variety of existing facilities and that is a tribute to our success," said Simon. "We are a neutral broker, we can send the information (about the events) to the venues suitable for the size and find out who's interested. We've always been able to present one bid from the area."
Likewise, the Convention & Visitors Association of Lane County works closely with the University of Oregon and the Oregon Sports Authority. They have worked on leveraging their recent success with the Olympic trials last year. "The leadership has stepped up and recognized the importance of sports events in our area and the economic impact," said Ross. "The residents have also stepped up as well. Some events take thousands of volunteers."
The success of partnering with sports organizations is contagious among Visitors Bureaus.
"We are really excited about the Washington Association of Sports Commissions," said Heitschmidt. "We are really tightening up and getting organized as a state to help draw sports to our area."
With success comes development and the Pacific region is seeing plenty of that. In the last 18 months the Tri-Cities has added 500 guest rooms, City of Federal Way is in the midst of redevelopment of its downtown, and Wenatchee is increasing hotel rooms by 25 percent in 2010 with the development of three hotels in the area.
Bakersfield has added an online housing registration form on the website. Meeting Max is an automated system that allows planners to setup their own site to monitor guest registrations. Attendees can handle their own reservations and alleviate that from the planner.
A downtown complex is in development in L.A., adjacent to the Staple Center which will house a bowling alley, multiple restaurants, movie theater and a Grammy museum. There is also a new Marriott hotel that will rise 65 stories and add 1,000 rooms to the downtown L.A. area.
Yes, this region has something for everyone. From smaller tournaments to national elite championships, you'd be hard pressed not to find the perfect location for a sports event in the Pacific region.