Athletic tourism means more than just Aggie Football

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the term athletic tourism

If you’re like most people in College Station, you probably think about Aggie football games at Kyle Field. But the hidden gem in the local athletic tourism business is the City of College Station’s Parks and Recreation Department. We work closely with the Bryan-College Station Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Brazos Valley Sports Foundation to attract dozens of sports tournaments and events to College Station each year.

For more than four decades, the city has been a significant contributor to the local economy by bidding, hosting and facilitating invitational, state, regional and national tournaments in a vast array of sports. We have worked with state and national sports associations to attract events for softball, soccer, baseball, ultimate frisbee, lacrosse, rugby, basketball, flag football, 7-on-7 football, swimming, and the Games of Texas.

Last week, we hosted a 7-on-7 youth football tournament that saw 80 teams fill Veterans Park and Athletic Complex with more than 1,700 participants, fans and officials. The 7-on-7 state championship is being played this weekend on the Texas A&M campus, and we’re hopeful the tournament’s organizers will choose College Station and Veterans Park for future events.

To be successful in athletic tourism, a number of things must be in place:

  • Quality athletic facilities;
  • A sufficient number of athletic fields;
  • Strong local youth and adult sports programs affiliated with state and national organizations;
  • Expertise in hosting athletic events;
  • An adequate number of hotel rooms and restaurants;
  • Be within driving distance of large populations.

With these factors in mind, the city council recognized the value of athletic tourism by approving the addition of two lighted artificial turf fields at Veterans Park to help us attract additional and larger tournaments. The increase in field availability – along with less down time and seasonal closures during winter months — would position us to attract more events.

How does athletic tourism benefit our residents?

  1. Significant economic impact.
  2. Tournament quality venues for local youth and adult leagues.
  3. Local athletes can participate in regional, state and national events without leaving home.

In 2012, these events will bring more than 35,000 visitors to our city who will have a substantial impact on our economy by filling our hotels, eating in our restaurants and shopping in our stores. Our residents will also benefit from the additional sales tax and hotel tax revenues.  

We’re proud that the City of College Station is recognized as a major player in athletic tourism. Sports may be all about fun and games, but when it has an economic impact of millions of dollars on a community our size, it’s serious business. 

Tony Scazzero

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