Discover Kalamazoo is thrilled to report a record year in sports tourism in 2022. A total of 60+ sports events resulting in $28.7 million in estimated direct visitor spending played a significant role in helping Kalamazoo return to pre-pandemic levels via sports tourism.
More than 36,000 youth, amateur, college and professional athletes competed in various sports events and tournaments held throughout the Kalamazoo area, contributing to the region’s local economy by discovering Kalamazoo through a combination of activities such as lodging, transportation, food & beverage, retail, recreation, space rental, and other business services.
The following notable sports events were held in Kalamazoo in 2022:
Midwest & Pacific Coast Synchronized Sectional Championships hosted by the Greater Kalamazoo Skating Association at Wings Event Center, January 25 - 29
- Nearly 2,500 athletes, coaches, and various event personnel
- 2,800 room nights realized
- Estimated direct economic impact of $3,688,772
USA Hockey Youth Tier II 14U National Championships at Wings Event Center and Wings West, March 30 - April 4
- Nearly 1,300 athletes, coaches, and various event personnel
- 3,100 hotel room nights realized
- Estimated direct economic impact of $2,059,177
USTA Boys’ 18 & 16 National Championships at Kalamazoo College Stowe Stadium, August 5 - 14
- Nearly 600 athletes, coaches, and various event personnel
- 830 hotel room nights realized
- Estimated direct economic impact of $1,357,589
National Collegiate Roller Hockey Association National Championships at Wings Event Center, April 6 - 10
- Nearly 650 athletes, coaches, and various event personnel
- 530 room nights realized
- Estimated direct economic impact of $811,840
MHSAA Team Wrestling Finals hosted by the Michigan High School Athletic Association at Wings Event Center, February 25 - 26
- Nearly 900 athletes, coaches, and various event personnel
- 500+ hotel room nights realized
- Estimated direct economic impact of $557,557
Sports tourism continues to be a huge part of Kalamazoo’s rebound from the pandemic.
“As we look to the future, our goal is to continue building upon a strong foundation of annual and recurring sports events in our community as well as look at ways to diversify what sports events we attempt to bring to the community," said Brian Persky, Director of Business Development at Discover Kalamazoo.
“We’re extremely fortunate in Kalamazoo to have some of the country’s most highly respected youth sports organizations, and our community is the ultimate beneficiary from these successful partnerships.”
As a longtime partner of Discover Kalamazoo Sports, the Kalamazoo Optimist Hockey Association (KOHA) is one of the many incredible local youth sport organizations that we are lucky enough to have in our community.
"In April 2022 our club had the opportunity to host the USA Hockey 14U Tier II National Championships at Wings West and the Wings Event Center. Kalamazoo was an unbelievable host for over 700 players, 200 coaches and staff, plus their parents and family members," said Matt Kakabeeke, Executive Director of Kalamazoo Optimist Hockey Association.
"The Kalamazoo Optimist Hockey Association would not have been able to host, manage and ensure a lifetime of memories for these players without the assistance and guidance of Discover Kalamazoo Sports. The games, celebrations and championships achieved along with the impact on the local community will make us a future site in years to come."
Discover Kalamazoo Sports embarked on a Youth & Amateur Sports Facility Study with Convention Sports Leisure (CSL) Group in the Fall of 2022. CSL is the leading advisory and planning firm specializing in providing consulting services to the sports, entertainment, convention, and leisure industries. As an organization, Discover Kalamazoo and CSL met with dozens of stakeholders, conducted interviews, visited local sports facilities and venues, etc. to gather research for the study. It is expected that the preliminary results from this study will be finalized in the Spring of 2023.
Looking further into 2023, Kalamazoo will be seeing the return of the MHSAA Team Wrestling Finals at the end of February, followed by the 2023 USA Curling Mixed Doubles National Championships at Wings Event Center, February 28th - March 4th. Kalamazoo will also be hosting the first Scripps Regional Spelling Bee presented by The Kalamazoo Promise at Chenery Auditorium on Saturday, March 4th at 1pm.
Kalamazoo is also set to host the return of the 2023 Can-Am Softball Tournament, Latitude 42 Senior Pro Open 65+ Pickleball Tournament, Kick-Off Classic Synchronized Skating Competition, Michigan Kubb Championship, and much more.
The USTA Boys’ 18 & 16 National Championships will also be returning to for their 80th consecutive year at Kalamazoo College’s iconic Stowe Stadium, with satellite sites taking place at Western Michigan University and Loy Norrix High School.
Discover Kalamazoo Sports exists to provide a variety of services such as event support, promotion, housing coordination, volunteer assistance, local organizing committee involvement, bid proposal assistance, etc. in partnership with sports event planners, sports organizations, sports facilities/venues, and other related community partners. It is part of the organization's goals to ensure an outstanding experience for all event attendees, from players and coaches to fans, officials and staff. They ensure that when you host your event in Kalamazoo, it will be one to remember.
To stay up to date on all things sports in Kalamazoo, follow Discover Kalamazoo Sports on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
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Director of Business Development
Discover Kalamazoo / Discover Kalamazoo Sports
240 W. Michigan Ave.
Kalamazoo, MI 49007