I’m often asked how specific sports categories rank locally in the world of sports tourism. As we wind down 2013, it’s a good time to analyze the past year and see how various sports stack up. The following shows the percentage each category contributes to sports tourism spending. These numbers reflect spending from folks coming from outside the area, and for tournaments or events only. For example, ski racing is just that – in our case organized events hosted by the Mission Ridge Ski Team, not the dollars that a visiting family may spend at the Ridge.Baseball/Softball 31.4%Cycling/Running 11.0%Special Olympics 9.6%Amateur Hockey 8.5%Rams/Wild/AppleSox 6.9%Swimming 5.8%Ski Racing 5.6%Youth Basketball 4.0%All Others Combined 17.2%There are some interesting things to note here. For example, the overall impact of the Winter Special Olympics is amazing considering that it takes place in one weekend. Also, don’t be fooled by the 6.9% of the Rams/Wild/AppleSox category. Remember that we are dealing with sports tourism spending, not dollars that you and I may spend. The AppleSox and Wild combine to play in the neighborhood of 65 home games each season. But because of the geographic nature of the teams in their leagues, particularly the Wild, visiting squads don’t bring along a large fan base. Busloads of fans from Minot, North Dakota are not coming to Wenatchee. If the Wild were in a league with closer proximity, such as British Columbia, it would probably be a different story (but that’s a discussion for another time). However, because of their strong local following, those teams combine to inject literally millions of dollars into our economy, mostly local money, which does not qualify as sports tourism. But money is money and their actual worth is much higher than the above list would indicate.What will this list look like at the end of 2014? Figure skating will make an appearance, due to a couple of very significant events, including US Regional competition in October. Swimming will move up, with the Inland Empire Championships coming in July. We are also expecting an increase in the cycling/running category as organizers there are putting a lot of effort into increased participation.The above numbers represent about $7.4 million in tourism spending. That’s impressive to say the least. Add in the revenue produced by school activities, visitations from families here to ski, raft, fish, golf, hike & bike, and we’re several million dollars higher. Kind of nice to have all those opportunities just minutes away, right here in our own back yard!Matt KearnyWenatchee Valley Sports

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