In the sports tourism business, there often is a gradual transformation from one season to the other. Some ‘downtime’ between the end of seasonal sports, and the beginning of the next round. I am always reminded this time of year that is not the case when going from winter to spring in the Wenatchee Valley. As an example, the weekend of March 25th saw not only the culmination of the 6-day FIS Regional Open Ski Races at Mission Ridge, but also a 32 team lacrosse tournament at Walla Walla Point Park. The next two weekends saw the Buddy Werner Ski Championships at MR, and the 135 team Triple Crown Youth Baseball Tournament that utilized nearly every baseball diamond in the Wenatchee Valley (26 actually).
The simultaneous scheduling between significant skiing competitions and field events such as golf, lacrosse and baseball is unusual and mostly impossible to pull off in most regions in the world. But that is one of the unique features of where we live, affording residents the opportunity to enjoy two completely different sports seasons at the same time. And the economic impact coming in from 2 different directions concurrently is a major bonus. March and April, considered to be a shoulder season in many areas of the Pacific Northwest, will account for well over $2.5 million in estimated sports tourism economic impact in the Valley. A tremendous boost to hotels, restaurants and retailers at a time most areas are in the process of shifting gears into spring. No shifting of gears here. Just the pedal to the floor.
The momentum kept moving forward last Saturday with the Wenatchee Marathon, Half-Marathon & 10K Races. Approximately 700 participants not only got to enjoy the surroundings the course offers, but for serious racers, it served as a qualifier for the Boston Marathon. Even more importantly, proceeds from the race go to cancer research and local charities. Throw in the $200,000+ being spent by visitors at area businesses, and it becomes obvious there are a lot of positive ramifications coming from this event alone. And to showcase our versatility even further, Saturday also signaled the opening weekend of the Wenatchee Valley Super Oval, the first of 13 race dates scheduled there in 2017.
Through the rest of April, there are four more softball tournaments, plus the Horse Lake Trail Runs on the 29th. No ‘downtime’ in these parts whether you are a participant, spectator, or are reaping the benefits from a business perspective.
Matt Kearny is Sports Tourism Coordinator for the Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce, and can be reached at 509-662-2116 or firstname.lastname@example.org