CHESTERFIELD – With 62 sports events attracting athletes, families and coaches from across the nation and several countries, sports tourism’s local economic impact reach $41 million in Fiscal Year 2018. That is an increase of nearly $2.4 million over the previous year as Chesterfield County matures as a sports destination. Sports tourism and the visitor spending it generates drove nearly $1.5 million in local tax revenue collected for the year.
River City Sportsplex, which the county acquired in December 2016, continued to establish itself nationally, earning SportsEvents Magazine’s acknowledgement as an “Ultimate Soccer and Lacrosse Destination and Venue,” as well as a National Association of Counties Achievement Award for Chesterfield’s efforts to transform the once-fledgling venue into a premier sports destination. River City Sportsplex’s share of the total sports tourism economic impact was $32.3 million. The facility hosted 549,000 visitors, including event participants and citizens making use of open-play opportunities — a benefit touted by local officials when deciding to purchase the facility. River City Sportsplex, located at 13030 Genito Road in Midlothian, hosted 26 sports tourism events, and growth is providing significant support to local businesses.
“We’re successfully competing against some of the finest tournament venues across the country as we continue our momentum to make Chesterfield the place for sports tournaments,” said James Worsley, director of Chesterfield County Parks and Recreation. “Our facilities also are providing those who live here great opportunities to pursue recreation, as well as compete in some of the nation’s top events here at home.”
In addition to events at River City Sportsplex, Chesterfield hosted numerous other events throughout the county, highlighting 14 sports. Events took place at 13 facilities, including county-owned and private venues, such as USA Swimming’s Futures Championship at SwimRVA and the Professional Putters Association Eastern Open at Putt-Putt Fun Center. A new Richmond Volleyball Club facility also debuted in fiscal 2018, built in partnership with Chesterfield and playing host to the Amateur Athletic Union Bid Tournament and Championship for girls volleyball, among other events.
The 62 sports tourism events held in Chesterfield included 14 new events, including the Club Champions League II Fall and Spring festivals for boys and girls soccer. The Club Champions League now chooses to hold five of its events in Chesterfield. U.S. Lacrosse, the national governing body for the sport, also brought its U15 Nationals girls lacrosse tournament to Chesterfield.
Regionally, sports tourism showed an $84.1 million economic impact, compared to $81.7 million in Fiscal 2017. Such parallel growth to the local impact is no accident as Chesterfield works with its neighbors to expand the region’s sports tourism capability. An example of the regional impact is that weekend hotel stays, for the first time, surpassed weekday business stays.
“It takes strong public-private partnership linked to facilities, venues, hotels, restaurants and retailers to produce tangible results,” county administrator Joe Casey said. “We are very fortunate to have a fantastic group of professionals supporting sports tourism in Chesterfield and throughout the region.”