April has been a season to celebrate sports in Boston, unless you are a Brooklyn Nets fan. What used to be a regular occurrence on Patriots' Day became a milestone with the running of the Boston Marathon.
The famed race, still haunted by bombings in 2013, returned to its traditional start date for the first time since the pandemic. Moreover, the Celtics swept their first-round series against a heated New York rival, but the Bruins are on their way to the Stanley Cup playoffs. And, of course, the Red Sox are playing at Fenway Park after Major League Baseball saved a full regular season at the last minute.
The teams, venues and events listed above are all iconic, fitting for one of the country's most historic cities. It should come as no surprise then that these long-standing favorites are the key to Boston’s economic revival.
A walk down Newbury Street reveals a swing in city residents' steps. Life is returning to normal—which means attractions are, well, attracting out-of-towners for events again. Sporting events and meetings/conventions are big business to Boston. Sports has a head start with the marathon and playoff season kicking into high gear.
No one is cheering louder than Martha J. Sheridan, president and CEO of the Greater Boston CVB. Connect Sports talked to Sheridan about the marathon’s impactful return and how the success of the city’s sports scene is a win for the entire region.
It's hard to imagine Patriots' Day without the marathon. Can you put into perspective what it means to return to the schedule that so many are accustomed to?
The Boston Marathon is a profoundly important event for so many reasons. First, it is one of the most iconic road races in the world that attracts a wide variety of athletes from the elite trying to chase a record to the novice running their first marathon in support of a vital charity. It is also a true tradition for so many residents and visitors as it winds through some of Massachusetts’ most beautiful towns and cities and draws hundreds of thousands of spectators who religiously cheer for the runners until the very end. Since the tragic events that took place nearly a decade ago, it has also taken on a new meaning as it symbolized the resilience of Bostonians determined not to let terrorism alter their course and traditions.
All business travel and visitation is important, but can you put into words the impact sports can have on making a full comeback from two hard years?
Past estimates show that the marathon pumps nearly $200 million into the economy each year. But beyond that, Boston is fortunate to have a multitude of sports events that infuse vitality and dollars into our economy throughout the year. Red Sox baseball, Celtics basketball, Bruins hockey and Patriots football fuel our economy year-round, and in our first year of post-pandemic restrictions being lifted, we are seeing robust attendance fueled with absolute passion for our teams.
In a sense, do you see these sporting events drawing so many people as a chance to make a first impression all over again?
Attending sporting events in Boston is an attraction for visitors beyond just cheering for our championship teams. Fenway Park, the TD Garden and Gillette Stadium are destination facilities that draw visitors from across the globe regardless of where their loyalties lie. Once you experience the tradition and incredible energy of attending a game in Boston, you will want to come back again and again.
What destination developments are you able to show off to out-of-towners who may not have been in town for a few years?
Boston’s culinary scene is on fire right now. With a plethora of nationally acclaimed chefs in the spotlight, visitors have the chance to experience some incredible dining options, including new and trendy restaurants and a new infusion of food halls such as TimeOut Market and High Street Place. We are also steering visitors to some of our iconic neighborhoods beyond the traditional visitor areas. From a walking tour of historic Roxbury, a brewery tour in Dorchester or some incredible ethnic restaurants in East Boston, the city’s cultural diversity is on full display for all to enjoy.
What makes Boston such a great sports city, not just for locals, but for fans across the country who make the trip there?
Boston has iconic venues and many events unique to the destination. For instance, the annual Head of the Charles Regatta is a spectacular event that draws competitors and visitors from around the world, and it showcases two world-class cities, Cambridge and Boston, as well as the stunning Charles River. Throughout the year, guests can visit the New England Sports Museum at the TD Garden or take a tour of Fenway Park.
In what ways do you see sports tourism changing as we enter a new stage of travel and everyday living? What innovations and experiences should we be looking out for?
Enjoying more outdoor experiences will be a pleasant hangover from the pandemic and Boston offers an extraordinary array of green space. The most well-known are the Boston Common and Public Garden, but we offer so many other options. The Rose Kennedy Greenway is an urban oasis that runs from Chinatown to the North End and features stunning public art, a full calendar of events and performances, a beer garden, a carousel and so much more.
Anything else you'd like to add?
While many travelers are familiar with Boston’s historic assets and traditional New England charm, the city now offers so much more in the form of contemporary art, world-class cuisine, thought-provoking attractions and events, and neighborhoods brimming with local treasures and character. If you think you know Boston, you might want to give us another try.
Photo Credit: Kyle Klein Photography