The Sports Blog

Check out what’s happening in sports & rec in the Wenatchee Valley in November!

This week, for the 2nd time in 3 years, the Wenatchee Valley will be host to the United States Figure Skating Northwest Pacific Regionals. This prestigious event is hosted by the Wenatchee Figure Skating Club, and will take place at Town Toyota Center Thursday thru Saturday. A total of 279 skaters representing 6 western states are entered to compete. Qualifiers will advance to the Pacific Coast Sectional Championships to be held in November in Salt Lake City. This competition is significant on several fronts. The events quick return here (last held in Wenatchee in 2014) is a testament to the impression that was made the 1st time around. The organizational efforts then of the Wenatchee Figure Skating Club combined with the impressive setting of the Town Toyota Center helped make this bid gain instant credibility. In this business a lot of factors weigh in on which bid is selected by the event rights holder, in this case US Figure Skating. A proven track record stands tall in the weeding out process. We all know about how important 1st impressions can be, and it’s no different in the business of bidding for site selections.

To really gain a perspective of how cool it is for this event to be here, consider that there are only nine US Figure Skating Regionals held annually. Some of the other sites this year include Scottsdale AZ, Ogden UT, Lansing MI, and Plano TX, where the host club will be the Dallas Figure Skating Club. Pretty impressive company! Hosting events such as this can pay dividends in the years to come. Just like when you are looking for a job, your resume’ is your billboard. It’s the same for the sports event recruitment business. When competing for other events to come here, having the US Figure Skating Regionals in the bag raises more than a few eyebrows in a very positive way. Makes you kind of proud too, doesn’t it?

On the business side, it is estimated the event will produce in the neighborhood of $200,000 in economic impact, resulting in about 1,000 room nights. Also, this is not just a weekend event. With several participants and their accompaniment arriving mid-week, many hotels, restaurants and other business sectors will benefit during what typically can be ‘slower’ days of the week. Hats off to the Wenatchee Figure Skating Club, Town Toyota Center, and the many volunteers and sponsors for making this possible.

October is a busy month for sports and rec!

Here’s what’s happening in September.

In 2014, a study prepared for the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) found that outdoor recreation statewide generates $21.6 billion a year in spending on trips and equipment. Over $477 million of that was attributed to Chelan and Douglas counties. That study quantified what had already been widely acknowledged… that outdoor recreation has become a major player in the world of economic impact in our 2 county area. It became evident, through a series of discussions with those connected to outdoor rec here, that there was a need to dig deeper. To get a much better understanding of the origin and significance of outdoor rec, so that a foundation of knowledge and insight would be available as critical decisions are made that affect this industry moving forward.

In an effort coordinated by the Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce and supported by a number of key industry stakeholders and economic development entities, an in-depth study is being conducted this year. ECONorthwest, a firm that has extensive familiarity in a number of economic studies in North Central Washington, was hired to conduct economic analysis. This has resulted in months of data-gathering, interviews and other fact-finding research. Now, the next critical component of the study has begun: The release of an economic impact survey on outdoor recreation for the 2-county area. This survey is designed for residents and visitors to offer input on a wide variety of subjects concerning outdoor rec here, such as:

What value do residents place on outdoor recreation here? Is it mostly for the benefit and enjoyment of a healthy lifestyle, or as a driver to help ensure increased economic vitality in our region?

What is really driving people interested in outdoor recreation to make the decision to come here, for a weekend or a lifetime? What are our strengths, or weaknesses compared to other regions?

As we ponder on how to move forward in creating more or improved outdoor recreation opportunities for residents and visitors, what economic opportunities will those investments bring?

A wide range of participation from locals to visitors is critical for the success of this project. You’re encouraged to be a part of the research that may very well help define the future direction of outdoor recreation in our region. The online survey can be found at http://bit.ly/2aHsbkq or go to our homepage. The survey will be available until approximately October 15. We encourage you to participate, and to share this access link with others!

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 matt@wenatchee.org

Find out what’s happening this month in the Wenatchee Valley Sports August newsletter.

Check out what’s happening in July sports & rec  in the Wenatchee Valley.

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 matt@wenatchee.org

Those involved in the world of tourism, be it of the vacation, convention or sports variety, have always struggled with having a major drop-off once the robust periods begin to slow down. Because when that happens, there is a significant ripple effect that impacts a number of sectors in the community, led by lodging, restaurants and to some extent, basic retail. These periods are often referred to as ‘Shoulder Seasons’. In many areas, April is considered to be one of those, when winter activities are dying down, and those fueled by warm weather have yet to kick in. Due to a number of factors, including favorable weather, the Wenatchee Valley hasn’t been affected by downtimes in the 4th month of the year, particularly on weekends, and sports and recreation are the basic reasons why.    Take a look at this year’s schedule. In late March/early April, Mission Ridge plays host to the Western Region Championships, where many top-level skiers from North America and Europe will come here to compete. Some 280 skiers and their entourage will be on hand for 6 days of skiing.    The following week, the Triple Crown Baseball Tournament, for ages 9-14, comes to town. Upwards of 130 teams from 4 states will be here, utilizing over 20 baseball diamonds in the area. Most hotel properties have been sold out for months, and many restaurants will be packed for hours on end.    Then, the weekend of April 16, the Wenatchee Marathon takes center stage. Last year, the event drew some 1200 participants, with 70% coming from 50+ miles away. And most of them don’t come alone, again putting hotel occupancy at a premium. These three events alone are conservatively estimated to generate an amazing $1.2 million in sports tourism spending. Keep in mind that figure doesn’t include spending by locals.    October is also considered by many areas to be part of a ‘Shoulder Season’. Warm-weather activities have wound down, and winter momentum is a month or so away. But again, sporting events override any downturn. This year in early October, the Wenatchee Valley will be hosting the annual Apple Cup Soccer Tournament, with nearly 90+ youth teams from throughout the Pacific Northwest expected. That’s followed October 19th-23rd by the prestigious US Figure Skating Northwest Pacific Regionals returning to Town Toyota Center for the second time in three years. Besides shining a positive light on the Wenatchee Valley, some significant spending occurs from skaters, their accompaniment and fans. In fact, those two October events will generate an estimated $460,000 in sports tourism economic impact.    ‘Shoulder Seasons’ in April and October? Not here!

Matt Kearny is coordinator of sports tourism for the Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce and can be reached at 509-662-2116 or matt@wenatchee.org

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