GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., Feb. 4, 2019 – The West Michigan Sports Commission (WMSC) hosted the most youth and amateur sporting events in a single year in its history with 88 events in 2018 that attracted 225,808 athletes and visitors, generating $51.8 million in direct visitor spending and filling 45,805 hotel room nights.
The year was highlighted by a number of national events by rights holders such as USA Cycling, USA Weightlifting, U.S. Judo Federation, National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
“West Michigan clearly is on the radar of event planners and national rights holders as a premier destination for hosting youth and amateur sporting events, as last year demonstrated with our most events hosted annually to date,” said Mike Guswiler, president of the West Michigan Sports Commission. “Coming off a successful 2017 with hosting the State Games of America, we maintained our momentum and continued to attract and host top national and regional events that boosted our region’s economy.”
The West Michigan Sports Commission was founded in 2007 as an economic generator to harness some of the $9.5 billion national youth and amateur sports industry for the region. One of its key tenets is generating overnight stays from event visitors, which drives spending in area hotels, restaurants and other businesses. Since its inception, the WMSC has booked 734 sporting events and tournaments that attracted more than 1.2 million athletes and visitors, generating $344 million in direct visitor spending.
The West Michigan Sports Commission tracked the following highlights in 2018:
The WMSC also tracked a dramatic increase in metrics from its founding year in 2007 to 2018:
As the West Michigan Sports Commission enters 2019, Guswiler and his team are focused on a few strategic areas. The first is continuing to attract national events to West Michigan. The WMSC won and will host the following national sporting events over the next year:
*First time for Grand Rapids to host
The sports commission also remains committed to promoting the importance of youth and amateur sports in West Michigan – a key part of which is continuing to host its successful flagship Meijer State Games of Michigan, which celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2019. Additionally, the WMSC won the bid to host the USA Masters Games June 26‐28, 2020, in Grand Rapids. The third edition of the USA Masters Games, this multisport, Olympic-style event for athletes 21 and over will be held at venues across West Michigan in conjunction with the State Games of Michigan-Summer Games. The inaugural USA Masters Games was held in Greensboro, N.C., in 2016, where 2,500 adult athletes from 10 countries and 45 states competed in 24 sports. The second USA Masters Games was held last summer in San Diego, where 2,000 athletes from nine countries and 38 states took part.
“Winning the USA Masters Games is a feather in our region’s cap and continues our strong track record of hosting youth/amateur Olympic-style games – first our own State Games of Michigan, then the State Games of America in 2017, and now the USA Masters Games in 2020,” said Guswiler. “We have much to be proud of as a sports destination.”
The third area is leading the conversation about sports infrastructure needs in West Michigan. The WMSC’s facility committee regularly examines the area’s sports venue needs and has taken the lead in identifying the feasibility of a multi-field sports complex concentrating on rectangle field sports.
Tag(s): Art Van Sports Complex