The City Desk: Sports Tourism Is a Win for Clearwater
This is a first installment of a monthly column written by and about the city of Clearwater. This month, the city looks at its thriving sports tourism. (If other cities in the Tampa Bay area would like a monthly column, give us a ring or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
By Jason Beisel, Clearwater Public Information Coordinator
The crack of baseball bats, the occasional yelling of “GOOOOOOOOAL” – sweet sounds that fill the air around the Joe DiMaggio Sports Complex and Spectrum Field starting in the early months of spring.
Philadelphia sends two of its major league teams, the Philadelphia Phillies and the Philadelphia Union, to Clearwater during the months of February and March for spring training. The Phillies take the bases at Spectrum Field, 601 N Old Coachman Road, while the Union takes the field at Joe DiMaggio, 2450 Drew St.
“In 2015, the Phillies accounted for $120-million of the city’s $145-million economic impact,” Clearwater Recreation Program Coordinator Brian Craig said. “The more than 75-year connection to Philadelphia, its game broadcasts and press coverage elevate the awareness of our destination and hospitality industry.”
Sports tourism is a home run for the city of Clearwater because of the impact it has on the city’s local economy. Games, competition and tournaments in a variety of sports bring thousands of fans and visitors annually, along with media outlets from different areas. These visitors and additional media coverage increase the awareness of Clearwater’s destination as a place-to-be.
“The places where sporting events occur – Spectrum Field, Eddie C. Moore Complex, Joe DiMaggio Complex and Clearwater Beach – are all surrounded by hotels, restaurants and shopping,” Craig said. “Sports tourism can also be featured in smaller events like volleyball tournaments, triathlons, 5K runs and more.”
Clearwater hosts many sporting events throughout the year. Some of the more notable ones are the Phillies spring training season, Major League Soccer spring training for the Union and D.C. United, USA softball National Team Selection, the USF softball series and more.
“Sports are uniting and universal,” Craig said. “Many cultures have an athletic, competitive component, and sports help us translate boundaries and build the fabric of the community.”
In July, Clearwater will take the spotlight on the world stage when the city hosts the 2017 World Baseball Softball Confederation Jr. Women’s Softball World Championship July 24-30. During this weeklong fast-pitch softball tournament, a record 26 countries from around the globe will compete to be the top women’s softball team in the world.
“Many of the athletes will be representing their countries in the 2020 Olympics when softball returns to the Games,” Craig said.
Before the WBSC Jr. Women’s Softball World Championship, some of the best teams in the U.S. will take the field at the Eddie C. Moore Complex, 3050 Drew St., as part of the 2017 USA Softball GOLD National Championships July 17-22. GOLD Nationals is the highest level of competitive fast-pitch softball in the country.
When these softball organizations select Clearwater as their home field for their championships, it shows the reputation the city has at hosting big sporting tournaments and competitions. This is important to not only visitors, but to those living in Clearwater.
“One of the lesser known benefits of sports tourism to a community is the improvements to facilities,” Craig said. “The impacts sports tourism bring help justify facility improvements that the community gets to enjoy throughout the year.”
In the future, Clearwater will continue to step into the batter’s box and hit home runs when it comes to bringing quality sporting events to the area, which benefits the city’s businesses, tourists and residents. City officials have identified six sports to focus on for sports tourism: baseball, lacrosse, sailing, soccer, softball and swimming.
“Clearwater has a history of success in each sport, to varying levels, and now the focus is to strengthen our position in each sport to maximize the destination marketing and economic impact for the community,” Craig said.
For information about Clearwater, go to myclearwater.com.
Photos courtesy of the city of Clearwater.
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