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6 Ways that Sports Tourism Impacted Kalamazoo In 2019 

Posted on April 16th, 2020

To say that 2019 was an incredible year for the Kalamazoo sports tourism industry would be an understatement. In comparison to 2018, direct spending in 2019 was up more than 28% according to the results of an economic impact study completed by Sports Facility Advisory in conjunction with Pure Michigan Sports – a statewide collaborative in which Discover Kalamazoo Sports is an active member. 


To make this unforgettable year one to remember, we’ve put together a list of 6 ways sports tourism impacted Kalamazoo in 2019. 



1. An Estimated 90 Sports Events  



From local soccer, baseball, and softball tournaments to NCAA championships… All sports events, no matter the size made an impact. Here are a few of the most impactful events hosted in Kalamazoo in 2019. 

1. Midwestern & Pacific Coast Synchronized Skating Sectional Championships hosted by the Greater Kalamazoo Skating Association

2. NCAA Division III Men’s & Women’s Tennis National Championships hosted by Kalamazoo College

3. And for the second consecutive year Kalamazoo hosted the MHSAA Team Wrestling Finals. The MHSAA reported that their last two years in Kalamazoo have drawn their two largest crowds over the last 11 years… What can we say? We’re big wrestling fans.





2. More than 61,000 Athletes 



Youth, amateur, and professional athletes all competed in various sports events and tournaments held throughout the Kalamazoo area in 2019. 


Kalamazoo also served as the host for the 2019 USA Curling National Championships, welcoming the USA Olympic Gold Medal team into our community. Does the name Matt Hamilton sound familiar?


We’re only slightly bragging… 





3. $26.9 Million in Estimated Economic Impact 



Each event, athlete, team, and spectator visiting our community for a sports event contributes to the region’s local economy through a combination of activities such as lodging, transportation, food & beverage, retail, recreation, space rental, and other business services. 





4. Kalamazoo Gets SafeSport Certified  



Pure Michigan Sports and Discover Kalamazoo Sports teamed up with the U.S. Center for SafeSport to host a SafeSport Certification Training. The training was held at Kalamazoo College in November, where more than 55 local sports event planners, sports organizations, and sports facilities/venues became SafeSport certified. 


According the U.S. Center for SafeSport’s website, their mission is to make athlete well-being the centerpiece of our nation’s sports culture through abuse prevention, education, and accountability. 



<< Learn more about the U.S. Center for SafeSport >>




5. Awarded 2020 USA Hockey Youth Tier II 14U National Championships Bid 


Unfortunately, the USA Hockey Youth Tier II 14U National Championships scheduled for April 2-6, 2020 were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however it is anticipated that Kalamazoo will once again be given the opportunity to host the event in the near future.




6. WMU eSports  


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You know, not too many people know this about me but aside from keeping up with my academics, professional development, and fitness goals. Competitive Gaming is one of my favorite hobbies. Some of my closest and longest friendships developed through playing video games. I remember when I first arrived in the U.S. I couldn't really speak English, but I knew how to say, "Nintendo". It was internationally known for meaning, "I play video games do you?" Before I knew it, I found a community of gamers that reminded me of home and made me feel like I belonged. All though we all came from a different multicultural background. We all had one thing in common, our love for competition, outsmarting your opponent, and endless nights of Super Smash Brothers fights! The rest is history, I still find my self taking mental breaks and treating my self to some Super Smash Brothers' Tournament Competitions, and continue making new friendships. So in times like today, when the world is slowing down, I encourage you to take some time to invest in your hobby. You'll never know who you will find shares the same hobbies and it always provides a great mental break. For me, I am a proud Nerd and that's my Hobby. For my Super Smash Brothers' Community, Gamer Stag is: MexKev Been a Super Smash Bros University Alumni since 1999, My Main is Ganondorf. Got a Bachelor's in Forward Air, with a Minor in Down Spikes. #Gamer #Hobbies #SuperSmashBros #SSBU #Nintendo #WMUEsports #CompetitiveGaming #Tournament #GamingCommunity #Everlastingfrienships #FTH #Ganondorf #Doriyah #IamaNerd #LatinoGamer #QuarantineIsforGamers #ChallengeAccepted #ThisIsTheWay

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A fairly new addition to Kalamazoo is Western Michigan University’s eSports Arena. This state of the art facility includes space for practice, tournament play and professional production. It offers 36 gaming machines, 12 of which are competition computers that sit in front of a 190-seat auditorium. 


The WMU eSports Arena hosted 16 events, welcoming 400+ competitors in 2019. 


eSports offers a new and exciting perspective to the sports industry and we’re thrilled to have the ability to welcome future eSports competitors and fans into our community.