Better understanding of how to benefit from sports tourism
Like with the success of Bilbao's broader economic redevelopment agenda as well as the related insight that arts museums tend to be better at generating high attendance than other museum forms, the success or failure of "sports tourism" is more complicated, and ephemeral events such as the Olympics ("Big sporting events (World Cup/Olympics), economic development and trickle down economics" and "More thinking on "return on investment" from different types of sports facilities and DC, and an Olympics in DC") or annual events like the Super Bowl or All-Star Game rarely have the kind of immediate economic impact that is touted ("Economics of the Super Bowl and other big sports events") because these events stoke very narrow segments of the local economy -- food and beverage, some labor associated with hotels, and some limited transportation.
Certain types of events and activities are likely to have great positive impact, other types are not, and it is important to develop a framework to distinguish between the various types, comparable to the framework I have been developing concerning sports arenas and stadiums -- it's not that I think public funding is a good idea, I don't, but recognizing that the likelihood of successfully warding off public funding in most cases is remote, let's figure out how to best capitalize on the spending, to reap the greatest possible amount of benefit.
For arenas and stadiums, I came up with this framework:
Characteristics that support successful ancillary development associated with professional sports facilities:
- isolation or connection: how well is the facility integrated into the urban fabric beyond the stadium site and does it leverage, build upon, and extend the location and the community around it;
- size of the facility (baseball, football, basketball, hockey, soccer), bigger stadiums--football stadiums specifically--are harder to integrate in the urban fabric;
- frequency of events held by the primary tenant--baseball has 82 home games/year, football about 10 including pre-season, basketball and hockey have 41, soccer about 17--so football stadiums are very rarely used (according to the Chicago Sun-Times article "Emanuel mulling 5,000-seat expansion to Soldier Field," the facility holds about 22 events including annually, 12 non-football events);
- how many teams use the facility, maximizing use and utility of the building--for example, Verizon Center in DC is used by professional men's and women's basketball, hockey, and one college basketball team for more than 100 sports events each year;
- are events scheduled in a manner that facilitates attendee patronage of off-site businesses--a business isn't an anchor if it aims to not share its customers; the earlier events are scheduled, the harder it is to patronize retailers and restaurants located off-site, at night during the week, there is limited post-game spending as well, on the weekends it's a different story with more opportunity to patronize off-site establishments--teams manipulate scheduling to reduce spending outside of their on-site and 100% controlled facilities;
- use of the facility for non-game events drawing additional patrons--such as concerts and other types of programming; and
- how people travel to events: automobiles vs. transit--if automobiles are the primary way people get to events, then large amounts of parking usually in surface lots needs to be provided, making it difficult to foster ancillary development because of lack of land and poor quality of the visual environment, whereas if transit is the primary mode, then more land around a facility can be developed in ways that leverage the proximity of the arena.
Past entries that complement this listing include "Stadiums and economic effects," "Sports stadiums (and arenas) and local economic development and a DC soccer stadium," and "Stadiums and arenas as the enabling infrastructure for "money-making" platforms ."
WRT other sports tourism elements, more criteria need to be added to the above list, and a more honest evaluation of the economic impact on food, beverage, lodging, transportation, and other retail.
Like with Indianapolis, and note that Richmond's SportsBackers initiative is similar ("Case study in created events: Richmond's Sports Backers," Sports Planning Guide), a wide ranging plan specific to sports on the scale of what I call a "Transformational Projects Action Plan" is likely to be more successful than various one-off ventures.
... who knew that there is Sports Destination Magazine?
Note that wrt local-regional museums and exhibits on local sports, the Heinz Center in Pittsburgh does a particularly good job with its Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum. The failure of the Sports Legends Museum in Baltimore ("Sports Legends Museum closes its doors," Baltimore Sun) likely demonstrates that stand alone regional museums dedicated to local sports are less likely to be successful than those programs which are part of larger museums.