Linda Logan, executive director for the Greater Columbus Sports Commission in Ohio, is considered at the top of her game in the sports tourism industry. That’s what makes it interesting when she points to another city as a shining example for using athletics to drive business. “Richmond is doing an excellent job of owning and operating its own events,” Logan says of the Virginia capital. Logan, who’s been promoting Columbus for decades, is describing the growing trend of destinations—through sports commissions—taking control of their own destiny. It’s only one of the ways events and sports tours have become key contributors to a city’s overall economy. Here are a few ways it’s done that in an increasingly competitive market.
Own your own events.
“If the community doesn’t haven’t anything in the pipeline, it’s about creating your own magic,” says Logan. The Sports Backers, a nonprofit local sports commission working in conjunction with Richmond Region Tourism, hosts 13 annual events including the Anthem Richmond Marathon, an outdoor sports music festival called Dominion Riverrock, the Cougar 7v7 Field Hockey tournament and Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10K, which routes 44,000 participants down a tree-lined historic street.
“If you look at some of the biggest sporting events in America, they don’t move around,” says Jon Lugbill, executive director of Sports Backers. “The Daytona 500 is always in Daytona, Florida, and the Kentucky Derby is always at Churchill Downs. It just makes sense. There’s a certain point where you have to ask yourself, ‘Why are we limiting ourselves with just what is [up] for bid? Why don’t we create something?’”