Holding Sporting Events In Arkansas Is a Natural

by Cody Elmore  on Monday, Nov. 7, 2011 12:00 am  

Bentonville has found its niche in outdoor sporting events such as cycling championships.

Somewhere in Arkansas the crack of a baseball bat, the tick of bicycle gears and the patter of running shoes ring out over the treetops. Picking up speed like a mountain bike roughing the trails of the Ozarks, sporting events bring a bundle of excitement and economic impact to Arkansas cities. Whether it’s Little League baseball tournaments for 8-year-olds or a mid-autumn 5K, Arkansas communities seek out the chance to play host to sports competitions.

Arkansas’ centralized location offers robust advantages in recruiting and maintaining relationships with sporting groups. Convention and visitors bureaus from Harrison to Hot Springs are focusing on bringing these events to the Natural State.

“These groups want a location that’s easy to reach for everyone in the surrounding areas,” Kalene Griffith, president of the Bentonville CVB, said. “The fact that we are about the same distance from a few major cities around this region of the country makes my job a lot easier. It’s just something that attracts people here.”

Trade shows are held to offer sporting groups and cities a chance to connect and collaborate. Each city on average meets 60 to 80 different groups and, from there, narrows the options it thinks best fits its community.

“We target events that are a good match for our community and events that make sense economically,” said Steve Arrison, CEO of the Hot Springs CVB. “We take into consideration facilities, location, cost and other aspects.”

Time is of the essence when considering the options each event brings to the table. An extensive amount of time is spent planning and organizing events both big and small.

“Depending on the event, we start organizing events several years out,” Arrison said.

Large events take a substantial amount of time to plan, taking into account the priorities of the group and ability of the city to accommodate those priorities.

Bentonville’s Griffith said, “We’re working now on a couple of cycling events that will be held in 2013 and 2014. We have to have enough time to get things ready for them and let them get ready for us.”

For cities such as Harrison, the impact of sporting events is felt throughout several economic sectors.

“Sports events are a major part of our tourism economy,” said Terry Cook, executive director of the Harrison CVB. “We estimate that for each person staying overnight for an event, they spend $100 per day.”

Not only does hosting sporting events bring immediate economic stimulation to a city, but long term it offers publicity and marketing opportunities.



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