The Pacific Coast: Sun, Sand, Trails and Snow
30 Apr, 2010By: Amy Henderson
Think sandy beaches, snow capped mountains, endless hiking and biking trails, picturesque scenery and blue waters of the Pacific Ocean.
When you think of the Pacific Coast your mind can wander from world class skiing and snowboarding to beach volleyball. It might just be considered one of the smaller regions of the United States but the Pacific sure does pack a punch.
Comprised of just five states, Washington, Oregon, California, Hawaii and Alaska, the Pacific region has ample natural and manmade resources available for any indoor or outdoor sport.
It doesn't hurt that some of the most notable sports venues are located in the Pacific region.
California is the largest state among the five states. It only stands to reason it ranked second in the United States behind Texas in athletic participation among high school students in 2008-09 with 771,465 student athletes. Washington State ranks 19th and Oregon 41st.
California is also home to 19 professional sports teams, while Washington boasts 23 teams in both professional and semi-professional sports. Oregon acts as home to just one professional team with the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers and there are a handful of minor league sports and ample collegiate sports teams.
The region has hosted Olympic Games, NASCAR races, World Championships, World Cup games and the oldest college bowl game.
So what's the big deal? The Pacific region knows how to host a sports tournament and that's money in the bank.
Bend, Oregon has scored not one but two national championships for 2010. The USA Cycling Road National Championships and the USA Cycling Cyclo-cross National Championships will be held in June and December respectively.
Why Bend? "That culture has bred over time," explains Kevney Dugan, Sports Development Manager of Visit Bend. "There's 300 plus miles of biking trails in the area. We sit right on the edge of the Cascade mountains and the desert so you've got miles of flat road for your road bike and then miles of trails as well."
Approximately 1,000 riders and an additional 2,500 family members and spectators will converge on the town of Bend for eight days and the Convention and Visitors Bureau worked closely with the Oregon Sports Commission to ensure the event gets the Pacific Northwest experience.
"The town gets so involved with the events," said Dugan. "Our crowds just go crazy with the biking community. It's the overall culture, we don't just talk about it; we do it. The owners of the restaurants are out there with you to make the event a success."
Similarly, Redmond, Washington hosted the U.S. Senior Open at Sahallee Country Club in April. With over 125,000 spectators the event generated and estimated $25 million in revenue for the area.
"Being just minutes from downtown Seattle and Bellevue, Redmond is centrally located," said Jamie Morley, king pin with Bullseye Creative the marketing arm of Visit Redmond. "We are between the big city and some of the most beautiful landscape around. We offer tournaments big city access with a small town feel."
The Sacramento Sports Commission has been busy securing several notable events that will run through 2011.
The NCAA Women's Basketball Regional was held in March and the Amgen Tour of California kicks off May 16 and will visit 16 host cities covering more than 800 miles of California before finishing in Sacramento on May 23rd.
July brings the USA Masters Outdoor Championships at Sacramento State's A.G. Spanos Sports Complex with approximately 1000 athletes competing which provides a great springboard in preparation for the 2011 World Masters Athletic Championships.
"I think if you look at it - it's really the state of California," explained John McCasey, Executive Director of the Sacramento Sports Commission. "You look at the Amgen Bicycle Tour; clearly it's emerged as the largest cycling event in North America. Obviously we would rival the Tour de France in a heartbeat when you take in the vast variety of landscapes with the Pacific Ocean, wine country and mountains. It really is an ideal state to put on a race like this."
Being an ideal state will certainly pay off in 2010 and 2011 for the area, the World Masters event will have an estimated $20-24 million dollar economic impact on the area and an anticipated 24,000 hotel room nights over 12 days.
"There are about 10,000 visitors that will be here at that time, 5,000 of them are competitors. What we are most encouraged about is that a lot of these people will stay for 2-3 weeks additional to tour California."
As with any event, every destination needs to meet the most basic requirements: excellent venues, facilities and hotel accommodations to support not only the participants but their families and spectators. A wide variety of available restaurants is a key ingredient as well.
But what about the time between meets? That can play just as large a role in the planning of the event as the venue itself.
Vallejo, California provides not only exceptional facilities and a great location but plenty to do during down time for the athletes and their families.
"I think the major reason our location is such a success (for sports events) is our location and that we have Six Flags Amusement Park," said Mike Browne, Executive Director of the Vallejo Convention & Visitors Bureau. "The combination is great. Our connection with the city of San Francisco and the ferry that operates between San Francisco and the Vallejo waterfront allows visitors to go back and forth. We are also only 10 minutes from wine country and a major racetrack in NASCAR. There is no other location that can give so many attractions than right here in Vallejo."
The Redmond Town Center provides an open air village with shopping, plenty of restaurants and plenty of entertainment.
"The Town Center gives spectators and athletes ample activities to do during down time," said Morley. "It's a very big draw. All of the activities are within reasonable traveling distance to the fields."
The same can be said for Sacramento. "We have a great downtown," said McCasey. "There is a lot of history here and there are lots of things to do beyond the event."
"We are very diverse," continued McCasey. "We've got all different kinds of geography and demographics. We sell the Sacramento component but really we are a daytrip away from any number of places including Lake Tahoe, San Francisco and wine country. There is a lot of diversity."
On the Horizon
This region isn't ready to rest on their laurels just yet; there are plenty of projects moving forward to ensure event planners are keeping the Pacific region on their radar.
Vallejo is refurbishing the fairgrounds with plans to include a multi purpose sports facility with additional fields for softball, soccer and baseball.
"It will have a great effect on what we are doing and the sports market overall," said Browne. "It will really have an impact with new jobs and it's a key location being right across from Six Flags."
Redmond recently expanded the number of available hotel rooms with the opening of Hotel Sierra a 144 room property located just steps from Redmond Town Center.
In Bend, the focus lies squarely on the facilities. "The big one we are working on now is a new 10 field soccer complex," said Dugan. "It's something we need badly. We will have a big enough facility to host a youth soccer, field hockey, lacrosse or rugby tournament. This will allow us to showcase a complex with ample parking and ability to bring in 400 teams to compete. Our goad is to be able to market and sell the venue in 2011."
With strategic partnerships and aggressive marketing through traditional and new media the Pacific Region provides a little something for everyone from north to south.