The operator of Golden Goal Sports Park told local leaders this week that the region needs to put more money toward sports-related tourism to capitalize on the growing market.
Mark Shearer, a former soccer star who runs the sports center in Fort Ann, said the Lake George area is lagging behind other parts of the country in funding promotion to bring in sports-related business. He said families are increasingly packaging their family vacations with youth sports outings, adding on a few days in nearby destinations as they travel to tournaments.
Warren County can capitalize on more of this market, Shearer said.
“How can we work to bring more events here?” he asked. “To do that we need some help, we need some funding.”
Shearer told Warren County supervisors and local tourism leaders that he was discussing promotion of sports events at a recent conference with a promoter from the Poconos in Pennsylvania, who said his region spends $10 million on the industry, compared to Warren County’s $300,000 or so.
Disney recognized the trend years ago, adding sports fields to its amusement park and planning for a gymnasium complex to host sports like basketball, volleyball and cheerleading.
“In 1999, Disney was way ahead of the curve and realized sports was the future,” Shearer said.
Shearer’s remarks came as the Lake George Chamber of Commerce and Convention & Visitors Bureau released its annual report for its convention and visitors bureau arm, which highlighted a number of sports-related events the organization’s leaders say they attracted to the region this year and for next year.
Among the confirmed new events for next year is a lacrosse tournament, and the bureau is pursuing at least 14 other new sports events, as well as Winter Special Olympics for 2021.
The chamber and bureau have created a promotional video, targeting sports events, and has been placing ads and contributing to articles on several sporting event-themed websites and magazines, such as Connect Sports and Sports Events.
In all, chamber Convention Services Director Kristin Hanifin said, the chamber booked 21 new events in 2017, which filled 6,120 hotel rooms and had an economic impact of nearly $1.8 million.