Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tacoma: The Premier Amateur Sports Destination of the Northwest

Tacoma is fast becoming the premier amateur sports destination of the Northwest. Recurring events, such as various high school state championships and the Hershey’s Track and Field Games, as well as other huge one time events, like the 2011 USA Men’s Gymnastics Region II Championships, take place in or near Tacoma. The list of past and current events is extensive.

Tim Waer, CEO and Executive Director of Tacoma South Sound Sports Commission, has worked enthusiastically to market Tacoma and the South Sound as the destination for tourism-generating amateur sports events.

This area, Waer told the Tacoma City Council’s Economic Development Subcommittee, is an ideal place for amateur sporting events. Tacoma has a rich sports history, diverse venues, large hotel inventory, close proximity to Sea-Tac Airport, access to I-5, university and community colleges, many local attractions, and is a medium sized city, which together form the perfect place to promote amateur sports.

Amateur sports tourism is the largest growing tourism area, and while the tourism industry witnessed an enormous downturn during the recession, amateur sports tourism either kept pace or increased. “It doesn’t matter how bad the economy gets, they just don’t cancel the state wrestling championships,” Waer said. As such, amateur sports hold many community and economic development opportunities for Tacoma. 

What is more, Waer discussed additional opportunities for Tacoma and the South Sound, such as multi-tribe indigenous games or adaptive sports, like the U.S. Paralympics or Wounded Warriors.

Waer noted that the industry touched enough sectors and provided such a huge return on investment that it needed to be a priority for the city. Moreover, while Tacoma has unique and versatile venues, such as the Tacoma Dome and the Convention Center, these venues need updating. Additional challenges include the loss of program funding and the lack of a cohesive strategy with community partners.

Council members in attendance, Marty Campbell, Robert Thoms, David Boe, Ryan Mello, and Lauren Walker, appeared largely supportive for Waer and excited over the great opportunities Tacoma South Sound Sports Commission brings to the area. Thoms noted the importance of recreational sport activities to his family and the community. Likewise, Boe expressed his desire that every high school athlete’s goal be to “Get to Tacoma”, because Tacoma is the place for high school state championships. Walker described her excitement for the Lakewood SummerFEST Triathlon, the first public triathlon in Pierce County.

Be on the lookout for upcoming events in our area. For more information visit the Tacoma South Sound Sports Commission website.

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