Power Play

Guest Correspondence

For centuries dating back to ancient times when the Olympics were first held in Greece, humans have been fascinated by sports. Even in the modern day, many of us are consumed with cheering on our favorite teams and sports talk dominates many conversations both in person, around the water cooler and on social media. In the Robinson household, we are a house divided—I am a Miami Hurricane, my husband bleeds orange and blue and my children are now forming their own sports-related traditions (I am still not sure how my oldest became a Green Bay Packers fan). In Sarasota County, we are known for many things, including world-famous beaches, year-round warm weather and the abundance of amenities our community has to offer. More and more, however, we are also becoming known for our varied sports-related venues and activities, leading to the potential long-term impact and value of sports tourism—thanks to an active sports community.

As we attract more and more sports tourism, the economic impact generated for Sarasota County businesses will grow. This strategic diversification of our tourism economy from a large reliance on beach tourism is important so we can further economic stability. Sports tourists generally spend more and we see the benefits though sales tax infrastructure projects and tourist development tax projects that benefit the tourism industry and give the community benefits as well.

The Argus Foundation acknowledges and encourages this positive synergy between business and sports. Recently, Brian Ford, the chief executive officer of The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, spoke at a Meet the Minds luncheon on September 8. Over 100 people attended to hear Ford discuss the business operations of the hometown National Football League (NFL) franchise and this year’s happenings, including the power of the NFL, exciting new updates to the stadium, community outreach, future hosting of the Superbowl and more.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are a regional sports attractor and we have our own attractors unique to Sarasota County.

Many of our public sports facilities, including the recently renovated BMX track at the Youth Athletic Complex, Nathan Benderson Park, Ed Smith Stadium and the expanded sporting clays courses at Knight’s Trail Park as well as our privately held facilities like Fox Lea Farms, the Sarasota Polo Club and others attract sports competitors from around nation and the world, infusing money into the local economy and benefiting area businesses and, therefore, our residents.

The effect of the sports dollar is a powerful one. According to Sarasota County’s Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Department, Sarasota County has hosted 79 various sporting events in 2015, bringing in a direct economic impact of more than $33 million to the community.

The benefits of sports tourism leaves its mark on the spectator with a great impression of our community with the possibility of a return and the spectator leaves their economic investment in our businesses and also in tax dollars. Sport tourism is a win-win for our community and we should continue to support this diversification.

Christine Robinson is executive director of The Argus Foundation.

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