Nonprofits, Sports Business, and Travel & Tourism

Sports commission reports $39M impact

January 28, 2016
| By Pat Evans |
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Art Van Sports Complex baseball stadium
The Art Van Sports Complex in Plainfield Township is comprised of multiple baseball and softball fields. Photo via

Sports are bringing more people and money to the region.

The nonprofit West Michigan Sports Commission, or WMSC, released today its economic figures from its 86 events in 2015, including the attraction of 114,000 athletes and more than $39 million in estimated direct visitor spending.

“With nine years under our belt in attracting youth and amateur sporting events to the region, we continue to win new events that draw dollars and visitors to the region,” WMSC President Mike Guswiler said. “And we don’t see this momentum slowing any time soon. In fact, it will increase as more niche sporting events are created.”

The commission’s 86 events were an increase of 11.7 percent from 2014, and a 310-percent increase from when the WMSC was founded in 2007.

The Art Van Sports Complex helped attract $3 million in visitor spending in its first year of operation, with 18 baseball and softball tournaments. The complex’s April to October season saw more than 7,650 hotel rooms booked.

The Meijer State Games of Michigan grew again, with 9,939 athletes in 2015 and $3 million in visitor spending.

The future

This year already looks promising, according to the report, as does 2017.

In 2016, Grand Rapids will host the National Association of Sports Commissions Sports Event Symposium on April 3-7.

In 2017, the State Games of America will be held in town.

“The NASC Sports Event Symposium alone will draw 1,000 destination and event planners to town, including event owners, such as the NCAA, USOC and other governing bodies, to check out our first-class facilities and see what we offer for future sporting events,” Guswiler said.

Entering its second year, the Art Van Sports Complex has 22 tournaments booked. The WMSC hopes the complex can book more than 8,000 nights and generate between $4 and $5 million in direct visitor spending.

The commission also put together a facility-needs committee that will look to determine what facilities and venues West Michigan needs to be a sports destination. 

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