While March has presented a fairly steady stream of sports events in the Wenatchee Valley, April is when the rubber really begins to hit the road. On tap are impact events including ski racing, youth baseball, golf, running, softball, and auto racing. In fact, two of the years largest events in terms of sports tourism take place in back-to-back weekends. April 11-12 will find a record 130 baseball teams (ages 9-14) on hand for the Triple Crown Season Opener, attracting squads from Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Washington. Teams are welcomed in Friday night with opening ceremonies at Town Toyota Center. Saturday and Sunday, over 20 area diamonds will be in use. Area school districts, cities, Parks & Recreation departments, Chelan County PUD and local baseball organizations are all partners that help with field availability and usage. Many area hotels set aside room blocks, some restaurants provide specials, and several businesses donate raffle items for the kids to enjoy at the opening ceremonies. It’s quite a production, but certainly well worth it on several fronts. The following weekend, The Wenatchee Marathon takes center stage, with an Expo open to the public Friday the 17th, followed by the marathon/half-marathon & 10k runs Saturday. Between those two weekends, we’ll see over $850,000 in economic impact from visitors, an incredible number for what many regions of the state consider a ‘shoulder’ season. Not only does this provide a welcome economic boost to dozens of area businesses, but it also affords exposure to hundreds of people who may have never experienced this area before. The fact many of those will return at a later date for vacations or a weekend stay is just icing on the cake.
But April is just the beginning. May, June and July also provide a healthy share of activity. Swimming, cycling, trail runs and 3-on-3 basketball join all the other events already in full swing. Not to mention team sports like the AppleSox, Rams and Wenatchee FC and huge year-round activities such as fishing and hiking. Historically, March thru July are the peak months here in terms of total number of sports events. And sports tourism spending follows right along. For example, in 2014 those 5 months accounted for 69% of the year’s estimated economic impact based on sports events and tournaments. What really makes it special is that a high percentage of those events include a significant number of locals that can enjoy them as participants or spectators, within minutes of their homes.
Matt Kearny is coordinator of sports tourism for the Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce and can be reached at 509-662-2116 or firstname.lastname@example.org