Matt Kearny – Wenatchee Valley Sports
A wide variety of sports events in April has resulted in a record breaking month in terms of sports tourism economic impact in the Wenatchee Valley. With one event still to be verified, sports tourism spending estimates for the month are expected to surpass $1.7 million, breaking the previous record of $1.425 million achieved in May 2015. Economic impact derived from sporting events has been tracked in the Wenatchee Valley since 2007. April activities provided a nice jolt of business to area hoteliers. Events that included youth baseball, ski racing, a state gymnastics meet, men’s softball and the Wenatchee Marathon helped contribute to an estimated 6,300+ room nights, also an all-time high for a single month. The surge is expected to continue throughout much of 2016. The increase of participants in outdoor recreation-related events, combined with a strong presence of existing tournaments/events on the schedule bodes well. Also our sports teams such as the AppleSox, Wild, Rams and Wenatchee FC help create a solid foundation that is most valuable. And that doesn’t even take into account the impact of events generated by our school districts and Wenatchee Valley College.
In keeping with the theme of a strong variety of offerings, this October marks the return of the US Figure Skating Northwest Pacific Regionals for the 2nd time in three years. That spectacle in particular takes us into a different level when looking at the ‘big’ picture. Because of its prestige and the regional media coverage it generates, the Wenatchee Valley receives exposure that is pretty unique for an area our size. Consider that there are only nine such regionals held nationwide. Other 2016 hosts include the likes of Lansing Michigan, Ogden Utah, Scottsdale Arizona and Plano Texas (hosted by the Dallas Figure Skating Club). It’s pretty heady stuff to be included in that group. But thanks to the outstanding efforts of the Wenatchee Figure Skating Club and having a terrific venue such as Town Toyota Center, we are able to reap the benefits.
Keep in mind the estimates referenced above are only for sports tourism spending on tournaments and events (new money in the area), not local dollars. Nor do they include the estimated millions of dollars generated by those coming here not for races or events, but simply to enjoy our many outdoor recreation-related assets. There is an in-depth, year-long study on the economic impact of outdoor recreation in Chelan & Douglas counties in progress now. This project, spearheaded by the Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce, will provide detailed insight into areas we have been unable to track up to this point in time.
Matt 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