5 Takeaways From the NASC Symposium

2017 NASC Symposium
Niche events found their, well, niche at the 2017 NASC Symposium last week in Sacramento, California. What was good news for drone racing, bridge and other events that don’t require a field also proved to be educational for the hundreds of National Association of Sports Commissions members in attendance. We sorted through the facts, figures and strategies shared for these takeaways.

Go Nontraditional

Sure, you have an annual softball tournament. But what about a Drone Racing League event? John Gibbons, executive director of the Rhode Island Sports Commission, and Kris Smith, director of the Detroit Sports Commission, discussed how they’ve brought eyeballs, tourists and dollars to their communities through Red Bull events, bridge and DRL. Smith noted drone racing’s impact extends beyond the organization’s stay. “This lives on forever on YouTube; this lives on forever on [DRL’s] website,” says Smith. “So when you start taking a look at events like this, it is important to look past the true economic impact numbers.” Adding to that, Gibbons recalls the 2014 American Contract Bridge League filled 13,000 hotel room nights and drew none other than Bill Gates. “[That] gives you an idea of the quality of people who could come to your community,” he says.

Open Your Ears

Detroit’s Smith delivered the line of the symposium: “As much as we can get down on millennials… quite honestly, we need to start listening to them.” The quote was in reference to e-sports, but could apply in any circumstance.

More Research to Do

More than 70 percent of responding sports tourism organizations said they had neither a research nor a planning program in place, according to a NASC survey led by Don Anderson of the Destination Consultancy Group. More than half of survey respondents cited funding as a significant obstacle to establishing those sorts of operations.

Stats Galore

Did you know Americans (roughly 23.4 million) play basketball more than any other team sport according to the Sports and Fitness Industry Association? The next closest is baseball (roughly 13.7 million). Also from SFIA: Stand-up paddleboarding is America’s fastest-expanding sport, with 116.9 percent growth from 2014 to 2015. Overall, sports tourist spending increased to $10.47 billion in 2016, according to NASC research led by Ohio University’s Dr. Heather Lawrence-Benedict. That’s a 10 percent jump from 2015.

A Different World

“Soccer in America is a rich person’s sport,” says SFIA President and CEO Tom Cove. “It’s the only country in the world where it’s a rich person’s sport.” SFIA research shows roughly a third of American households participating in outdoor soccer have annual incomes exceeding $75,000.