EIGHTY-SIX SPORTING EVENTS PUMP MORE THAN $39 MILLION IN DIRECT VISITOR SPENDING INTO WEST MICHIGAN IN 2015

PRESS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:               Kim Skeltis, APR; (616) 419-8385; kim@blueblazepr.com                                                                           

EIGHTY-SIX SPORTING EVENTS PUMP MORE THAN $39 MILLION IN DIRECT VISITOR SPENDING INTO WEST MICHIGAN IN 2015

West MI Sports Commission to Continue Positioning Region as Premier Sports Destination in 2016 by Attracting National Events, Increasing Art Van Sports Complex Use and Leading Discussion about Sport Facility Needs

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., Jan. 28, 2016 – Youth and amateur sporting events in West Michigan are more than just fun diversions; they are serious revenue generators for the region. In 2015 alone, the West Michigan Sports Commission (WMSC) estimates that 86 sporting events last year attracted more than 114,000 athletes and visitors and more than $39 million in estimated direct visitor spending. Last year also saw the most sporting events in a single year since the WMSC was established in 2007.

“With nine years under our belt in attracting youth and amateur sporting events to the region, we continue to win new events that draw dollars and visitors to the region,” said WMSC President Mike Guswiler. “And we don’t see this momentum slowing any time soon – in fact, it will increase as more niche sporting events are created.”

The West Michigan Sports Commission was founded in 2007 as an economic generator to help harness some of the $7.8 billion youth and amateur sports industry for the region. One of its key tenets is generating overnight stays from event visitors, which drives spending in area hotels, restaurants and other businesses. Since its inception, the WMSC has booked 489 sporting events and tournaments that attracted 650,000 athletes and visitors, generating $190 million in direct visitor spending.

2015 Highlights

In 2015, the West Michigan Sports Commission charted the following in terms of sporting event economic impact:

  • 86 sporting events attracting more than 114,000 athletes and visitors and more than $39 million in estimated direct visitor spending
  • The most sporting events held in a single year since the WMSC’s inception at 86, up 11.7 percent since 2014 and 310 percent since 2007 when the WMSC was established
  • The Art Van Sports Complex contributing $3 million in direct visitor spending to the $39 million in 2015 in its inaugural year, hosting 18 tournaments between April and October that attracted 7,614 participants who booked 7,658 hotel room nights plus an estimated 20,000-plus spectators
  • The Meijer State Games of Michigan continuing to grow, with 59 sports between the Summer Games and Winter Games in 2015 (from 51 in 2014) that drew 9,939 participating athletes in 2015 (up from 8,579 in 2014); and $3 million in direct visitor spending
  • Establishing solid foothold with NCAA DII and DIII, hosting multiple tournaments in 2015 (NCAA DIII Women’s Basketball National Championships, NCAA Division II Outdoor Track and Field Championships, NCAA DII Women's Golf National Championship and NCAA DIII Women’s Volleyball National Championships), most of which return in 2016 or 2017

Economic Impact – 2007 to 2015

The WMSC also has tracked steady increases in metrics from its founding year in 2007 to 2015:

  • Number of sporting events – 86 events in 2015 from 21 in 2007
  • Number of visitors – 114,000 visitors in 2015 from 33,900 in 2007
  • Direct spending in millions – $39 million in 2015 from $7 million in 2007
  • Hotel room nights – 38,886 sports-related hotel stays in 2015 from 12,661 in 2007

Looking Ahead - 2016 and Beyond

As the West Michigan Sports Commission enters 2016, Guswiler and his team are focused on key areas for growth for this year and beyond. The first is continuing to attract national sporting events that generate higher numbers of visitors, direct spending and hotel room nights.

“We have a strong roster of sporting events over the next two years, highlighted by the 24th National Association of Sports Commissions Sports Event Symposium April 3-7 in 2016 and the State Games of America in August 2017,” said Guswiler. “The NASC Sports Event Symposium alone will draw 1,000 destination and event planners to town, including event owners such as the NCAA, USOC and other national governing bodies, to check out our first-class facilities and see what we offer for future sporting events.”

The WMSC has booked the following national sporting events over the next two years:

2016

ACHA DIII Men's Ice Hockey Championships – March
Western Collegiate Hockey Association Final Five – March
US Quad Rugby Sectionals – March
24th National Association of Sports Commissions Sports Event Symposium – April
USA Track and Field 2016 Masters Outdoor Championships – July
USA Gymnastics 2016 Region 5 Congress – September

2017

NCAA DIII Women’s Basketball National Championships – March
State Games of America – August
International Softball Congress World Championships - August
NCAA DIII Women’s Volleyball National Championships – November

Another goal is increasing visitor spending generated by the new Art Van Sports Complex (AVSC), which is now entering its second full season. Anticipated highlights for the 2016 season include:

  • Booking 22 tournaments to date, with the number expected to increase to 24, including two national Game Day USA tournaments that will draw many teams from Illinois and additional surrounding states
  • Generating $4 to $5 million in direct visitor spending
  • Booking more than 8,000 hotel room nights based on the current schedule, which should increase as additional tournaments are booked

A third growth area for the WMSC in 2016 is leading the discussion of building up the region’s sports infrastructure. The WMSC has formed a facility needs committee that will champion that charge to make sure the region has the proper facilities and venues to be the premier destination for youth and amateur sports, which includes looking at Phase II of the Art Van Sports Complex.

# # #

About the West Michigan Sports Commission

The West Michigan Sports Commission is a non-profit 501 (c) (3) that identifies, secures and hosts a diverse level of youth and amateur sporting events to make a positive impact on the region’s economy and quality of life. Since its inception in 2007, the WMSC has booked 489 sporting events and tournaments that attracted 650,000 athletes and visitors, generating $190 million in direct visitor spending. For more information, visit westmisports.com and Facebook.com/WestMichiganSportsCommission and follow @WestMiSports.

Media Contacts

West Michigan Sports Commission

Katy Tigchelaar

Kim Skeltis, Blue Blaze PR

Meijer State Games of Michigan

Eric Engelbarts, II

Latest Tweet