By J.D. Wood, Tourism Manager
Now that our Super Bowl buzz is finally wearing off, College Station is turning its focus to a lesser known sport – Quidditch. And it’s for the same reason Houston and every other major city in America want to host Super Bowls.
The almighty dollar.
Veterans Park and Athletic Complex will host the 2017 U.S. Quidditch Southwest Regional Championship on Saturday and Sunday, bringing in 21 teams from five different states. It’ll be the first major Quidditch event hosted at a City of College Station facility, and we hope it won’t be the last. Admission is free.
Super Bowl tourism in perspective
Houston reportedly welcomed more than 1.3 million guests for the Super Bowl weekend, with economic impact estimates as high as $350 million for the entire metro. For one weekend, that’s pretty mind blowing.
But Houston couldn’t do it alone.
The state’s event trust fund paid $25.4 million to help build up to the big game, and Houston was asked to guarantee an impressive array of complimentary services. When Dallas bid for the 2011 Super Bowl, the trust fund awarded $32.1 million, and the city pooled its vast resources to win over the National Football League.
What does this mean for College Station?
Although College Station will never host a Super Bowl, Texas A&M’s collegiate events are the Super Bowl equivalent to our local economy. According to a recent study by A&M’s Division of Finance and Administration, Aggie sporting events and related campus activities attracted 1.3 million visitors and $385 million to the regional economy in 2013. The numbers for 2016 likely exceed those estimates.
The City of College Station and Bryan College Station Sports & Events capture bids on a variety of sporting events each year that add significant value to our community. The successful bid to host our first U.S. Quidditch regional will not only spur the weekend economy, but it could also lead to additional opportunities for us to host more Quidditch tournaments.
We expect the event to attract about 300 visitors who will spend money for two days on local hotel rooms, food, and entertainment.
How do we land these events?
College Station competes with other cities to host these types of events and the economic benefits they bring. But like Houston, we can’t do it alone.
The U.S. Quidditch bid manual describes what the organization typically asks of a host community in incentives and services. While it’s no Super Bowl request, it requires host communities to commit a significant level of time and resources.
The Parks and Recreation Department and Bryan College Station Sports & Events leveraged the Texas A&M Quidditch team’s participation in national and regional competitions to assemble our pitch.
Supporting new business for local hoteliers, retailers, and restaurateurs is what drives this effort, and Quidditch is certainly not the first successful pitch we’ve had. Here are a few other notable visitor-based events hosted by College Station thanks to winning bids submitted by our dedicated Parks and CVB sports event managers:
- 2014-2015 TAAF Games of Texas
- 2016 U.S. Youth Soccer Region III Presidents Cup
- 2016 Adidas State 7-on-7 Championships
- 2016 ASA Girls 16U Fast Pitch National Championships
- 2017 Cowart Sports Texas State Championships
- 2017 Primetime Sports 7-on-7 Tournament of Champions
When it’s all said and done, these events will have attracted more than 50,000 visitors who injected $20-25 million into our local economy.
Free Quidditch youth clinic
Still not sure what to think? Come out to Veterans Park and Athletic Complex on Saturday or Sunday and see what sports tourism looks like in action.
As a friendly gesture to fans and curious onlookers, U.S. Quidditch will conduct a free clinic on Quidditch Field 3 to teach kids and young adults about the sport. The clinics will last about an hour and a half and will start at 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday, and at noon on Sunday.
They’ll provide the equipment, too, so no need to bring your broomstick.
We’ll see you this weekend at Veterans Park!
J.D. Wood has been the City of College Station’s tourism manager since 2014 after serving as lead athletic supervisor for a year. His extensive experience in sports and tourism includes stints with the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau and Texas A&M Athletics. A native of Onalaska, J.D. earned his bachelor’s (2009) and master’s (2010) degrees in sports management from Texas A&M.
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At most big-time softball tournaments, the opening ceremony includes little more than a series of boring, rah-rah speeches near home plate. If you’re expecting that at Thursday morning’s opening ceremonies for the ASA Girls Fast Pitch 14U “A” Southern National Championship, think again. The City of College Station Parks and Recreation staff has devised a unique twist.
Players and coaches representing 40 teams from Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma will be paraded into the Adamson Lagoon pool deck at 9:30 a.m. for team photos. After some brief remarks from city and tournament officials, Creek View Elementary music teacher Kelly Herriage will sing the national anthem.
Then things will get fun.