fbpx
Published in Economic Development
The 2022 Blue Chip Softball Fall Classic held at the Meijer Sports Complex. The 2022 Blue Chip Softball Fall Classic held at the Meijer Sports Complex. COURTESY OF WEST MICHIGAN SPORTS COMMISSION

West Michigan Sports Commission reports record year for events, visitor spending

BY Monday, January 23, 2023 12:54pm

The West Michigan Sports Commission experienced its most successful year to date in 2022 as it generated $90.5 million in direct visitor spending during a record number of events.

Commission officials released the nonprofit’s economic impact data today, showing that direct visitor spending was up by roughly 65 percent from 2019 and 2021. The organization hosted 113 youth and amateur sporting events in 2022 that drew 38-percent more athletes and visitors compared to 2021, while the number of hotel rooms booked increased by 41 percent compared to 2021.

“While 2021 was a rebuilding year for youth and amateur sports tourism, 2022 has proven to be a blockbuster year in West Michigan across almost all metrics even when compared against pre-pandemic times, proving the resilience and growth of sports tourism,” WMSC President Mike Guswiler said in a statement. 

Founded in 2007, the WMSC helps to attract national youth and amateur sports events to the region, including at the Meijer Sports Complex near Rockford. Since its founding, the WMSC has booked 1,095 sporting events that have attracted more than 1.9 million athletes and visitors, according to commission officials.

The organization’s banner year came as it launched an $11 million capital campaign to expand the Meijer Sports Complex with more baseball and softball fields as well as amenities. The WMSC hopes to leverage both public and private funding for the expansion, and launch construction in 2024.

Meanwhile, the WMSC has hired Phoenix, Ariz.-based sports tourism consulting firm Huddle Up Group LLC to study the region’s sports tourism market and identify new growth opportunities.

“We’re finally back to ‘business as usual’ in the sports industry and now we’re building back our travel team base and booking those last events that may have been postponed, plus keeping an eye on new bid opportunities,” Guswiler added. “We’re also looking to the future at how we can grow this industry, which includes expanding our sports infrastructure to meet increased demand at venues like the Meijer Sports Complex. We see a bright future for youth and amateur sports in West Michigan.”

Read 898 times
SUBSCRIBE TO MIBIZ TODAY FOR WEST MICHIGAN’S FINEST BUSINESS NEWS REPORTING >