Nearly every Saturday morning, ballfields throughout the United States are filled with young athletes. This can range from t-ball beginners to seasoned amateurs on the cusp of next level performance. One thing many of these young athletes have in common is the undying love and support of attentive parents. Regardless of the sport, parents serve as chauffeurs, equipment carriers, coaches, and snack providers. Historically, sports facilities have not focused on the needs of this group in favor of providing a quality environment for event participants. On a basic level this makes sense, the safety of participating athletes is paramount to producing youth sporting events. However, statistics show that athletes aren’t the only group sports facility operators should consider.
The Youth Sports Industry
A report from TD Ameritrade showed that 63 percent of American families spent between $100-500 per month per child on youth sports. A little more than 10 percent of families spend over $1,000 per month on youth sports. Overall, the National Association of Sports Commissions reports that visitors to youth sporting events spent $10.5 billion dollars in 2016. Who’s footing the bill? The fateful moms and dads who not only support their young athletes with love and encouragement, but often with their checkbooks as well. And while statistics on youth sports spending show the financial lengths parents will go to groom their children into future stars, it’s also indicative of the competitive nature of the industry.
A June 2019 article in Sports Business Journal states that more than $161 million in youth sports complex projects are currently under construction with more than $550 million being built over the last three years. That’s a lot of sports tourism venues and a great deal of options for events rights holders. To standout in an increasingly crowded market, sports facility operators must infuse their venues with amenities that are appealing to the events rights holder’s core audience, the parents of youth athletes.
What Today’s Soccer Moms (and Dads) Want
While building an elite venue with the capability to host national tournaments is important, making sure that it appeals to parents and non-participating family members has become critical to success as the industry has grown. Below is a list of innovations that we are both implementing in SFM Network facilities and seeing in other facilities:
Family Entertainment Centers: Trips to tournaments are quickly replacing traditional vacations for many families. Family entertainment centers such as the one at Rocky Mount Event Center give non-participating family members something to occupy their time before, after, and even during the sports events. The 15,000 square foot area includes a variety of games as well as a rocking climbing wall.
Wi-Fi Connections and Charging Stations: Tournament days are long days. Providing WiFi for guests allows them to catch up on work, another sports event, or anything involving the outside world. The importance of charging stations can’t be expressed enough. Any parent will tell you a charged tablet will go a long way in occupying young children.
Healthy or High-End Concessions: It’s long been accepted that waiting in long lines for chicken tenders, a burger, or a hot dog was a part of the youth sporting event experience . More and more, sports tourism venues are providing a variety of healthy foods for athletes and parents. Also, facilities such as Spooky Nook are placing restaurants on site to give attendees better dining options.
As the largest network of sports tourism facilities in the United States, the SFM Network has implemented all of the innovations list above and more. If you are an events rights holder looking to host an event at one of our premiere venues, contact us today.