EIGHTY SPORTS EVENTS BRING $46 MILLION TO WEST MICHIGAN IN 2016, INCLUDING $5M FROM ART VAN SPORTS COMPLEX AND $3.5M FROM STATE GAMES OF MICHIGAN

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


                
EIGHTY SPORTS EVENTS BRING $46 MILLION TO WEST MICHIGAN IN 2016, INCLUDING $5M FROM ART VAN SPORTS COMPLEX AND $3.5M FROM STATE GAMES OF MICHIGAN

West MI Sports Commission Celebrates 10 Years of Positioning Region as Premier Sports Destination in 2017, Contributing a Cumulative $240M in Direct Visitor Spending through 568 Events in West Michigan

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., Feb. 2, 2017 – The West Michigan Sports Commission (WMSC) closed a strong 2016 in sports tourism, hosting 80 youth and amateur sporting events that attracted more than 154,850 athletes and visitors and generated more than $46 million in estimated direct visitor spending. The year’s accomplishments are part of a legacy that the sports commission has contributed to the region for the past decade as it celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2017.
“When we opened our doors 10 years ago, we couldn’t have fathomed the pivotal role sports tourism would play in West Michigan, both in strengthening our economy and quality of life,” said WMSC President Mike Guswiler. “Clearly, youth and amateur sports tourism is a key industry for our region and will continue to be for many years to come.”

The West Michigan Sports Commission was founded in 2007 as an economic generator to help harness some of the $9.45 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 568 sporting events and tournaments that attracted 880,000 athletes and visitors, generating $240 million in direct visitor spending.

2016 Highlights
The West Michigan Sports Commission charted the following highlights in 2016:
•    Hosting 80 sporting events that attracted 154,850 athletes and visitors and $46.2 million in estimated direct visitor spending (up from $39 million in 2015).

•    Contributing $5 million in direct visitor spending in the Art Van Sports Complex’s second season (up from $3 million in 2015), hosting 17 tournaments between April and October that attracted 642 teams and 8,346 athletes and 20,000 spectators who booked 6,744 hotel room nights.

•    Growing the Meijer State Games of Michigan, with 62 sports between the Summer Games and Winter Games in 2016 that drew 10,367 participating athletes and $3.5 million in direct visitor spending.

•    Attracting and hosting more national events, including the ACHA D3 Men’s Ice Hockey National Championship, 2016 WCHA Championships, 2016 U.S. Quad Rugby Heartland Sectionals (one of the first U.S. sanctioned adaptive rugby events in Michigan), NCAA DII 2016 Men’s Golf Regionals, Meijer LPGA Classic, USA Track and Field 2016 Masters Outdoor Championships (a first for Michigan) and the Game Day USA National Championships. Last year, the WMSC also won the bid to host the first Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) Masters World Championships in August 2017.

•    Hosting the 2016 NASC Sports Event Symposium in April, the annual meeting for the nonprofit trade association for the youth and amateur sports event industry (and the first time the meeting was hosted in Michigan in its 24-year history). The meeting attracted 1,000 industry professionals, including 200 event owners such as the AAU and national governing bodies of Olympic sports, and $1 million in economic impact.

•    Peer recognition through industry awards, including:
o    Champion of Economic Impact in Sports Tourism for the USA Track and Field 2016 Masters Outdoor Championships by Sports Destination Management
o    Best Sports Destination and Sports Venue Professional to Watch (Bryan Baar with the Art Van Sports Complex) in the Readers’ Choice Awards by Sports Events
o    Finalist in the Best-Managed Nonprofit Awards ($1 million to $3 million category) by MiBiz

The WMSC also has tracked a dramatic increase in metrics from its founding year in 2007 to 2016:
•    Number of sporting events – 80 events in 2016 from 21 in 2007
•    Number of visitors – 154,850 visitors in 2016 from 33,900 in 2007
•    Direct spending in millions – $46.2 million in 2016 from $7 million in 2007
•    Hotel room nights – 43,141 sports-related hotel stays in 2016 from 12,661 in 2007

Looking Ahead to 2017
As the West Michigan Sports Commission enters its 10th year in 2017, Guswiler and his team are focused on a few strategic areas. The first is hosting a strong 2017 State Games of America, a biennial four-day event that will attract 12,000 athletes from more than 40 states as well as Ontario, Canada, to participate in more than 50 sport competitions in the Games. That, combined with 30,000 spectators, will help generate a potential economic impact of $9.5 million for West Michigan, with hotel occupancy at capacity. And while two of the primary venues will be Van Andel Arena and DeVos Place Convention Center, activities will be played at venues throughout a multi-county area. The event will supplant the 8th annual Meijer State Games – Summer Games, drawing athletes who previously won medals at their respective Summer Games state competitions to earn a spot in this national event.

“We’re basically hosting the Olympics of State Games in Michigan, and almost every venue and hotel in the entire West Michigan region will benefit from this four-day event,” said Guswiler.

The second is to continue attracting national events to West Michigan. The WMSC has booked the following national sporting events over the next year in addition to the State Games of America:
•    2017 USA Cycling Fat Bike National Championships - January
•    NCAA DIII Women’s Basketball National Championships - March
•    2017 International Softball Congress Men’s World Tournament - August
•    PDGA Masters World Championships - August
•    USA Weightlifting American Open Series 3 - September
•    NCAA DIII Women’s Volleyball National Championships - November

The third area is leading the conversation about sports infrastructure needs in West Michigan. The WMSC assembled a facility needs committee in 2016 to take a more concerted look at the area’s sports venue needs, with plans to make recommendations in 2017. Some potential areas of focus that still need to be vetted through a feasibility and ROI study include expansion of the Art Van Sports Complex either through the addition of a third quad or adding multi-purpose playing fields; developing the river in conjunction with GR Forward, and Grand Rapids Whitewater with the possibility of Riverside Park as an anchor for an all-paddle sports venue; and development of a multi-sports complex that could host soccer, flag football, lacrosse, rugby, field hockey and other outdoor sports.


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About the West Michigan Sports Commission
The West Michigan Sports Commission, a non-profit 501 (c) (3), works to identify, secure and host a diverse level of youth and amateur sporting events to make a positive impact on the economy and quality of life in the region. Celebrating 10 years since its inception in 2007, the WMSC has booked 568 sporting events and tournaments that attracted 880,000 athletes and visitors, generating $240 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

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