Discover Kalamazoo Sports reports hosting a total of 90 sports events held in 2019, which resulted in $26.9 million in estimated direct visitor spending.
More than 61,000 youth, amateur, and professional athletes competed in various sports events and tournaments held throughout the Kalamazoo area, contributing 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.
“It takes a huge effort from a lot of different local organizations to achieve this kind of community-wide impact,” says Brian Persky, Director of Sports Event Development.
“We’re very fortunate in Kalamazoo to have some of the region’s most well-respected sports event planners and sports organizations,” Persky added. “It really allows us to come in and play that supportive role where we can spend our time and resources on enhancing the visitor experience outside the field of play.”
Discover Kalamazoo Sports provides a variety of complimentary services including working with local sports event planners on prospective bid packages, coordinating site visits between national governing bodies and prospective venues, serving on local organizing committees, coordinating hotel room blocks with area hotels, providing welcome amenities for visiting event participants, and delivering an additional level of promotion and publicity when necessary.
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.
The following notable sports events were held in Kalamazoo in 2019:
Midwestern & Pacific Coast Synchronized Skating Sectional Championships hosted by the Greater Kalamazoo Skating Association
- Nearly 3,000 athletes, coaches, and team personnel
- More than 3,500 hotel room nights realized
- Estimated direct economic impact of $3.3 million
USA Curling National Championships hosted by the Kalamazoo Curling Club and Wings Event Center
- Approximately 200 athletes, coaches, and various event personnel
- Over 500 hotel room nights realized
- Estimated direct economic impact of $328,188
- 5,065 curling fans (264% increase from the 2015 event, last time held in Kalamazoo)
MHSAA Team Wrestling Finals hosted by the Michigan High School Athletic Association
- Nearly 1,000 athletes, coaches, and various event personnel
- 448 hotel room nights realized
- Estimated direct economic impact of $823,429
- Finals during the last two seasons (both held in Kalamazoo) have drawn their two largest crowds over the last 11 years
NCAA Division III Men’s & Women’s Tennis National Championships hosted by Kalamazoo College
- Roughly 350 athletes, coaches, and various team personnel
- 919 hotel room nights realized
- Estimated direct economic impact of $364,849
In addition, Discover Kalamazoo hired Madysen Stoneman, Sports Event Development Manager, whose emphasis will be primarily to assist partners with event planning services and promotion of sports events in the region.
In March, the Kalamazoo Sports Event Network was launched, which serves as a sports event tourism advisory committee to identify educational, networking and social activities enhancing existing sports event tourism opportunities in the region.
“This initiative is something our sports event partners are very passionate about and we’re already beginning to see immediate value in convening the group with more regularity,” Persky said.
One of the first events hosted – in conjunction with Pure Michigan Sports – was a SafeSport Training held at Kalamazoo College in November which certified more than 55 local sports event planners, sports organizations, and sports facilities/venues.
Looking ahead to 2020 and beyond, Kalamazoo has plenty of new and returning events on the horizon to look forward to. Earlier this year, an extension was signed between the MHSAA and Wings Event Center to continue calling Kalamazoo the home of the MHSAA Team Wrestling Finals.
The Kalamazoo Derby Darlins host the Junior Roller Derby World Championships at Wings Event Center on July 24-26, 2020, which will include an appearance by the hometown Kalamazoo Killer Beez Junior Roller Derby squad that enters the competition internationally ranked.
The USTA Boys’ 18 & 16 National Championships is scheduled to continue for its 78th consecutive year at Kalamazoo College’s iconic Stowe Stadium, with satellite sites taking place at Western Michigan University and Portage Public Schools.
U.S. Figure Skating’s National Solo Dance Finals will be held at Wings Events Center on September 10-12, 2020, an event hosted by the Greater Kalamazoo Skating Association.
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.
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Discover Kalamazoo Sports exists to provide event support and promotional assistance in partnership with sports event planners, sports organizations, sports facilities/venues, and other related community partners. Our mission is to share the local impact of sports tourism in the Kalamazoo region by providing inspiration that encourages visitors and residents to discover Kalamazoo sports!
Director of Sports Event Development