Field Report: Foley Sports Tourism Complex

Field Report: Foley Sports Tourism Complex

By Matt Swenson, March 13, 2017

Foley Sports Tourism Complex’s roller coaster ride toward completion is heading for a thrilling conclusion. A huge construction site—520 acres, all told—is being transformed into an all-inclusive resort for athletes and their families. Sixteen sterling fields are already in heavy use.

On a recent visit to the Alabama coastal town, one of the 21 planned rides was already standing. The skeleton of Foley Events Center, a 90,000-sq.-ft. indoor facility, was in place, and a 150-room TownePlace Suites by Marriott was taking shape. Phase one of OWA, as the entertainment and hospitality district is known, is scheduled to open this summer. Rolling Thunder, a massive roller coaster, will run through the middle of OWA.

Once the rides and event center are in place, Foley will have more than a sporting chance at drawing visitors from Pensacola, Florida, and/or Mobile, Alabama, both 45 minutes away. Even closer is Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama, which, combined with Foley, sees 6 million visitors per year.

“This is definitely a regional destination,” says Kristin Hellmich, OWA’s director of marketing and public relations.

Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet uses his fame to promote his home town of Rockford, Illinois, as a destination for events.

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The 2017 USA Boxing Junior Olympics, Prep Nationals and Youth Open Championships tops the list of what's going this week in Team USA.

Craig Mackay, sports development manager at Visit Mississippi Gulf Coast, impresses industry veterans early in his career.

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