Numbers for the first half of 2016 have been crunched, and when those are coupled with the schedule ahead, it’s becoming obvious that 2016 is shaping up to be a record-breaking year in the world of sports tourism in the Wenatchee Valley. There are a number of factors that have contributed to the fast start. Weather, as usual plays a major role. From a snow-sports perspective, you couldn’t have asked for a better winter. In the past couple of years, we have seen events cut back in size or occasionally moved away due to a general lower snow base throughout the northwest. It was back to ‘the good old days’ this time around, and that always is a factor in making cash registers ring, while at the same time giving locals prime opportunities to get out and recreate.
Quarter 2 is by far the highest producing 3 months of the year in terms of sports tourism in the Valley. Key factors include baseball and softball, both having some significant-sized events in Q-2, and April thru June provide ideal weather for running and cycling, both of which are in a rapid-growth mode here. Then there are always the sports categories that have one or two events on the docket. This spring, those included State Gymnastics, tennis, ice skating, and a rodeo, to name a few. Looking ahead, running events resume in the fall, once the heat settles down. The Apple Cup Soccer Tournament in October generally brings 80+ teams into the area, and we once again will have the honor of hosting the US Figure Skating Regionals at Town Toyota Center for the second time in three years. Earlier this year, we realized residual benefits from that event. The Wenatchee Figure Skating Club held their annual Apple Ice Classic in June and nearly 180 out-of-area skaters came to participate, as compared to approximately 90 last year. The reason for the uptick: many wanted to get familiarized with the facility and the ice prior to the Regionals. That bumped up the Ice Classic’s economic impact to the region by some $46,000 over 2015. That’s the kind of result that can occur when you combine an outstanding facility with a talented and hardworking local organizing committee. It pays dividends.
Sports tourism spending here was first tracked regularly in 2007. Last year, the number was $7.61m of estimated economic impact, which was the highest to date. This year, we are projecting out to about $8.05m, providing there are no negative surprises in store. Keep in mind this is for events and tournaments only, and does not include spending by locals. Otherwise, those numbers would multiply significantly, when you take into account the investment local folks make in supporting our teams, such as the AppleSox, Wild, Rams and Capitals. People enjoying activities, and the local economy getting a nice boost….that’s what sports tourism is all about!
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