Youth soccer, lacrosse events generate millions of local dollars

Local sports are a lot more than just fun and games.

They're also a multi-million dollar business generator in the Traverse City area.

A new report underwritten by the Traverse Bay Economic Development Corp. looks at the local money generated by the Cherry Capital Cup soccer tournament and The Cherry Bomb lacrosse tournament.

The study shows the two tournaments combine to bring nearly 16,000 athletes - and their families - to the Traverse City area annually, and are estimated to generate $3.4 million in direct spending in the area.

The report was released at an event this morning at the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce.

The study was commissioned in conjunction with the Traverse Bay Area Youth Soccer organization in response to their desire to secure more hotel rooms for their event, and improve the experience of the families in attendance.

Avenue ISR, a locally based business strategy and research firm, authored the report based on survey results of nearly 700 parents who took part in the two tournaments.

Jennifer Jorgensen, TBAYS executive director, said the two tournaments draw participants from throughout the Midwest.

According to the report, of the 17,400 men, women and children who attended the tournaments, over 91-percent live in areas outside of Traverse City. Some came from as far away as Dallas, Texas.

"We know that people stay here more than just the nights of the tournaments," Jorgensen said, "People are making vacations out of this."

Total direct spending by those attending the tournaments from out of the area averaged $985 per family.

Participation in youth team sports are at an all-time peak in the U.S. The National Association of Sports Commissions estimates that parents will spend close to $7 billion this year alone on traveling involved with youth sports.

Jorgenson said the report will underscore the local economic impact of the two tournaments, and hopes it brings more sponsors and vendors to events in the future.

"I think it's important to have that information go out to our sponsors," Jorgensen said, "They know it's a good return on their investment."