February 6, 2012
By DEBBIE HALL - Bulletin Staff Writer
The Smith River Sports Complex more than doubled its estimated impact on the local economy between 2010 and last year.
Billy Russo, operations director at the complex, estimated the impact in 2011 at more than $800,000.
That was a conservative estimate, according to Russo and Amanda Gray, director of marketing and public relations at the complex. They said the estimated economic impact of various events includes:
• $325,000 from the Virginia Fusion 2.0 Ultimate Frisbee Tournament;
• A total of $256,000 from the Piedmont Youth Soccer League’s (PYSL) Piedmont Shootout Soccer Tournament Series;
• $104,000 from the USA South Men’s and Women’s Soccer Championships/NCAA Division III USA South Conference Tournament;
• “At least $80,000” from the Regional Adult Ramirez Soccer League;
• $30,000 from the Carlisle Classic Field Hockey Tournament;
• $6,000 from a “Stick-It-To-Cancer” Club Field Hockey Invitational.
Several factors were responsible for the increase, including expanded offerings and events held in six sports last year compared with five in 2010, when the economic impact was estimated at $400,000, according to Russo and previous reports.
The sports complex held its grand opening in August 2009. The Harvest Foundation paid nearly $9 million to build the facility, which was envisioned to help boost the local economy by promoting tourism by attracting visitors to the area. The Southern Virginia Recreation Facilities Authority (SVRFA) manages the facility.
Both Russo and Gray said the complex has hosted Frisbee, soccer, lacrosse, football, flag football, field hockey and other events. It also includes spaces for families, church groups and others to rent for various special events.
“Competitive tournaments such as the Virginia Fusion 2.0 Ultimate Frisbee Tournament, the USA South Men’s and Women’s Soccer Championships and three Piedmont Shootout Soccer Tournament series provided” entertainment and attracted “a steady flow of visitors from 25 states,” Gray said.
The Frisbee event, for example, attracted more than 900 athletes to the area from 20 states, Gray said.
She explained that the National Association of Sports Commission uses data provided by the complex to calculate the economic impact.
Russo said that after an event, local hotels are polled to determine the number of rooms reserved or filled for the event. The estimated local impact is derived by multiplying the number of rooms by the $125 estimated average spent per hotel room, including the cost of the hotel room as well as food, gas and “everything else they spend here,” he said.
Although as many as four players stayed in each hotel room during the Frisbee tournament, the average used to calculate the estimated impact was based only on the number of rooms, not the number of people in each room, Russo said.
Most of the participants and visitors for that event spent two nights in the area, Gray said. She added that several teams participating in the “Stick-It-To-Cancer” Club Field Hockey Invitational also spent the night in local motels/hotels, with an estimated impact of $6,000.
The USA South Men’s and Women’s Soccer Championships/NCAA Division III USA South Conference Tournament generated an estimated impact of $104,000, and the estimated economic impact of the Regional Adult Ramirez Soccer League, which attracts visitors and players from North Carolina and other areas, was “at least $80,000, and that is a very low-ball” estimate because it accounts only for people who rented hotel rooms, Gray said.
The impact of visitors to the area who do not spend the night but who eat in area restaurants and buy fuel and other incidentals at local convenience and other stores was not included in the calculations, Russo said.
It “is hard for us to really calculate” that impact, he explained.
Gray said the complex is working with the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corporation’s Tourism Department to find a way to capture that data.
Russo noted that the complex also is home for local teams, including Carlisle School and the PYSL. The economic impact figures do not include money PYSL and Carlisle pay to use the facility.
Several visitors stayed in the area during last fall’s PYSL Piedmont Shootout Soccer Tournament Series, a three-weekend event that generated a combined estimated impact of $256,000, Gray said.
The Carlisle Classic Field Hockey Tournament attracted nine teams to a weekend event for an estimated $30,000 economic impact, Gray said.
The tournaments and travel teams “bring in family members,” some of whom stay in local hotels, Gray said.
Other events, including Averett College soccer games, the Virginia Association of Christian Athletics Soccer Championship and Southside Football League’s Kids of Steel Fall Brawl, also affected the local economy, Gray said.
The complex’s calendar is filling up for 2012 with repeat events as well as new ones. For instance, Russo said it recently added a volleyball tournament that is expected to attract 180 athletes.
The complex also hopes to become more regional in scope and expand its draw in adjacent areas, Russo said.
For information about getting involved with the complex or to rent a facility, contact Gray or Russo at 638-5200 or visit www.SouthernVirginiaSports.com.
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