Amateur sports tourism continues its rise as one of the most rapidly growing industries. And the impact of sports tourism on communities goes beyond event attendance. PBS North Carolina discussed the Sports Tourism Boom on ncIMPACT.
“Cities all over the country are competing to build these facilities, and that’s something we don’t take lightly,” Rocky Mount Event Center General Manager David Joyner says. “So it isn’t just how great the facility is. It’s how great the experience they have [from] when they get off the highway.”
According to the Sports Events and Tourism Association, amateur sports tourism generated $91.8 billion in economic activity nationwide in 2021. That’s more than admission.
“They come, they stay in the hotels, they visit the local restaurants, and they visit attractions in the area as well,” Amanda Baker, Partner Marketing Manager for VisitNC, says. “This leads to great opportunities for business in the area as generating tax revenue and local jobs.”
Rocky Mount Event Center attracted an estimated 50,000 new visitors to the area in 2022, and generated $260 million in new local spending in its first 10 years. Baker, and others don’t expect the industry’s growth to slow, even in the face of a predicted recession.
“Traditionally, the youth sports and sports tourism industry has been seen as a recession-resistant industry,” she says. “And it’s something where we see parents invest and continue to prioritize their children’s athletic endeavors.”
Hill Carrow, CEO of Sports & Properties, Inc. agrees. He says it’s an industry “that does more than just bring people to town. Many of these sports events are worthy of spectator participation, not just friends and family. So, for your community, it adds to the quality of life to be able to go out and see some of these fun, competitive sports events in your hometown.”
Rocky Mount Event Center hosts basketball and volleyball tournaments. Joyner says an average volleyball tournament draws between 90-140 teams, and the 165,000 square-foot facility may soon add pickleball, cornhole, and other amateur events to its offerings.
“To think if you could have the majority of weekends in the year in your community—a rural city—bringing in 1000s of people of people,” Joyner says. “That’s really exciting, and the growth that comes with that.”
Events at Rocky Mount Event Center
Located in the heart of downtown Rocky Mount, North Carolina, Rocky Mount Event Center is equipped with the facilities to host sports tournaments, corporate events, concerts, and more. For more information about hosting your event at RMEC, contact us online or call (252) 231-3490