5 Economic Benefits of Sports Tourism

sports tourism benefits

In many cities throughout this country (and world for that matter), sports tourism development projects are being considered, built, or are already in place. You may have heard about the impact that the Hoover Met Complex is having on the city of Hoover, AL or how Round Rock, TX has defined itself through sports tourism. You likely understand what the NCAA Final Four has done for cities like Indianapolis and San Antonio, or the legacy of the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. With that and many other supporting examples in place, one can’t help but wonder if the $24 billion sports tourism industry is right for their community.

You are probably familiar with the challenges as well. Sports tourism requires a considerable investment in financial and physical resources. It takes a substantial amount of time and requires political will, community involvement, and collaboration from a diverse group of stakeholders. However, in clearing inevitable hurdles, sports tourism development opens the doors to several game-changing benefits that have proven to elevate cities and enhance the lives of its citizens.

Below are five economic benefits that we’ve seen both in our own sports tourism venues and in sports tourism destinations across the globe.

Tourist Spending

Primarily, sports tourism impacts communities through direct spending. Participants and spectators often stay multiple nights in local hotels, purchase numerous meals, and visit local attractions. This not only supports local businesses but provides significant tax revenues for communities.

When Rocky Top Sports World in Gatlinburg, TN opened in August of 2014, a $10 million economic impact was projected. Interest in the sports tourism facility as well as its reputation for being a premier venue grew quickly and it exceeded all projections, driving an economic impact of $17 million in its first year.

Job Creation

A sports tourism development can serve as catalyst for job growth. A large team of full and part-time employees is required to successfully operate a sports facility. As tournaments and other events are hosted in local communities, businesses are established to serve athletes and attendees. This helps build additional opportunities for communities that didn’t previously exist.

Job creation has been one of the primary ways that Sports Facilities Management (SFM) has served communities since it was founded in 2005. Currently, SFM employs over 700 people in sports venues throughout the United States.  


Sports tourism goes a long way in establishing the reputation of a community with visitors and locals. When participants and spectators attend a tournament, their overall experience: from the time spent at the facility, the restaurants around it, and the attractions nearby cement their opinion of the host city. Positive experiences can help host cities build a reputation as a “go-to” place for events among families and events rights holders. This was the case for Round Rock, TX, who in 2004 started a campaign to draw national events to their community. Their “Sports Capital of Texas” campaign used both online and offline strategies to raise awareness of their sports tourism assets among events rights holders and youth sports families. Campaign messaging was unified by its logo: a folding chair emblazoned with the Texas flag, symbolizing both pride in their location and an item that’s universally familiar to youth sports families.

In the years since the campaign was launched, Round Rock has hosted a diverse group of events from the U.S. Lacrosse Women’s Collegiate National Championship to the U.S. Quidditch Cup.

Quality of Life

Sports tourism venues can often improve the quality life for community residents, indirectly impacting its economic health. Sports facilities and the restaurants and entertainment venues built to support them can be enjoyed by locals just as much as they are enjoyed by visitors. Many sports tourism facilities offer programming to local residents that enhances their health and well-being. These types of offerings make communities more attractive to families who are considering a move. 

The Hoover Met Sports Complex is known for hosting the SEC Baseball Tournament each spring at their baseball stadium. However, local youth flock to the complex each summer for a myriad of developmental sports camps. They can enhance their skills in soccer, volleyball, and softball, among other sports.

Overall Tourism Boost

Youth sports events can serve as a great introduction to a city, influencing where attendees choose to go for leisure vacations. An AAU tournament at Rocky Top Sports World may lead to a whitewater rafting trip on the Pigeon River. An all-star game at Panama City Beach Sports Complex may lead to a spring break trip. Additionally, sports events can be scheduled during non-peak times, providing tourism revenue when a city wouldn’t normally receive it.

The benefits described above are being experienced by the communities that are home to facilities in the SFM Network. We have the largest network of sports tourism venues in the country and our experience, expertise, and resources can help you achieve unparalleled success. Ready to learn more about the network, contact us or call us at 727-474-3845.