Huntsville isn’t just a high-tech town known for helping put man on the moon.
It’s also a magnet for competitive sports tournaments that attract thousands of visitors and produce millions of dollars each year in the community. In fact, the Southeastern Short Course Championships and NASA Volleyball Bash this past weekend had an economic impact of more than $1.7 million in Huntsville alone, the city announced in a news release.
With more than 25 sporting events scheduled for 2020, the Huntsville Sports Commission reports an economic impact of over $2 million already this year in Huntsville. Sports Commission Executive Director Ralph Stone said this past weekend was a great example of Huntsville’s potential in the sports tourism industry.
“It was a great weekend for sports business in Huntsville,” he said. “With a combined economic impact of over $1.7 million for the City, it goes to show why the Huntsville Sports Commission does what we do.”
Below are main specs from both tournaments over the Feb. 21-23 weekend:
Southeastern Short Course Championships
- Host: Huntsville Swim Association
- Total Economic Impact: $870,312
- Participants: 945
- Daily Spectators: 1,890
- Room Nights: 2,044
NASA Volleyball Bash
- Host: NASA Volleyball Club
- Total Economic Impact: $855,672
- Participants: 1,704
- Daily Spectators: 2,500
- Room Nights: 1,864
Nancy Rickmeyer, tournament director for NASA Volleyball Bash, said this year’s event at the Von Braun Center was one of its best competitions yet. Downtown Huntsville was also a key factor in making the event so successful, she said.
“Downtown Huntsville has more opportunities than ever for dining, shopping and activities close to the VBC for all participants,” she said.
The Southeastern Short Course Championships also went well, thanks to partnerships within the community, according to Huntsville Swim Association Head Coach Matt Webber.
“The Southeastern championship meet is as well run a meet as you will find in the country,” he said. “The support we receive from the City of Huntsville, Huntsville Sports Commission and Huntsville Parks and Recreation Department is unmatched in terms of contributing to successful competitions.”
A recent study by WinterGreen Research estimates the youth sports industry is a $19.2 billion market in the U.S., rivaling the size of the $15 billion NFL. As traveling sports teams grow in popularity, that figure jumps to $24.9 billion worldwide.
Judy Ryals, president and CEO of the Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau, said the Southeastern Short Course Championships and NASA Volleyball Bash demonstrated the critical role sports tourism plays in Huntsville’s economy.
“It’s evident in the past weekend’s events and in others like the inaugural Huntsville Championship professional golf tournament in April and the U.S. Tennis Association’s national championship for 16-and-under girls this July, and so many other competitions,” she said. “It’s a testament to the excellent facilities and the city leadership in recognizing the benefit of sports to our community.”