Sports tourism focus worthwhile for city

Columbus has focused on sports tourism for a little more than a decade as a way to attract visitors and generate revenue. Tourism officials believed that was a winning proposition, with benefits to the city.

A recent study verifies that.

Ryan Brewer, assistant professor of finance at IUPUC, and Kayla Freeman, a doctoral student in finance at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, created a method for inexpensively estimating the economic impact of sports tourism in small American cities. The model was created after the Columbus Area Visitors Center asked Brewer to determine the impact of sports tourism in the city.

What Brewer and Freeman found is that Columbus is doing quite well. Their estimating method showed more than a $9 million impact in 2012, nearly $10 million in 2013 and nearly $11 million in fiscal year 2014, a period from August 2013 through July 2014.

Making those figures additionally impressive is that participants in softball, baseball, soccer and swimming tournaments, among other sports, are using facilities built first and foremost for use by local residents.

No large venue has been built exclusively for the purpose of attracting tournaments because the community is getting a great deal of use out of its shared-facility approach. But, Brewer said, the estimated impact figures could be a tool tourism officials use to draw support for sports venue projects.

What’s most important, though, is that the findings by Brewer and Freeman demonstrate that the city’s focus on sports tourism is paying dividends and is worth continued investment.