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County Hopes Sports Complex Will Bring Tourism Dollars

Jason Scott

Unlike its neighboring Florida counties, Seminole County does not have a theme park to draw tourists, but come Friday, when the ribbon is cut on a $27 million sports complex, the county can tap into another lucrative form of tourism – sports tourism.

The new state-of-the-art facility features 15 athletic fields that can be used for sports such as baseball, softball, lacrosse, football and soccer.

“It’s a huge deal for us,” Tricia Setzer, chief administrator for Seminole’s office of economic development and community relations told the Orlando Sentinel. “From a tourism perspective, this is the most monumental focus that Seminole County has put on tourism. We’re never going to be able to compete with Disney and all the other attractions. But for us, this is a fantastic niche: To bring in tournaments and outside visitors.”

Cities and counties around the country are building sprawling sports complexes with the end goal of attracting amateur sports tournaments. Citing a study by George Washington University and the National Association of Sports Commissions, the Sentinel reports that Americans spent nearly $9 billion in 2014 traveling to youth sports events.

County officials estimate that the sports complex can help provide millions into the local economy. The facility is booked to host 38 tournaments for the rest of the year. Officials estimate that those tournaments will result in 36,000 hotel room nights.

The Seminole complex will have to compete with other sports complexes in the area, including Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports complex. However, officials have plans to offer cheaper rental rates than other facilities.

“We will remain competitive with our pricing,” Setzer said. “Based on the research we have done, there is a lot of need for a [sports] facility, and there’s more than enough to go around.”

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