SportsBR supported 55 events that had an estimated $36 million economic impact on the Capital Region last year, says CEO Patrick Coogan, roughly $4 million more than reported in the nonprofit’s 2018 annual report.
Running events and tournaments brought 54,943 competitors and 164,363 travelers to Baton Rouge last year, which was more than the 50,785 competitors and 145,576 people who traveled to the area in 2017.
Among this year’s largest drivers for the region was the US Youth Soccer Southern Regional Soccer Tournament. Statistics for the event are still being collected, but Coogan estimates the event attracted around 10,000 people and generated a minimum $17 million economic impact.
The region’s next significant sporting event is the Marucci World Series, kicking off later this month. One hundred and sixteen teams from 20 states, Canada, and South Korea will be playing in Baton Rouge and Lafayette for the baseball tournament, which Coogan estimates have a $7.5 million impact.
Attracting sporting events to Baton Rouge has been an increasingly strategic move by Visit Baton Rouge, says Karron Alford, director of marketing and technology.
“We’re drawing in a good amount of business,” says Alford. “It’s putting Baton Rouge on the map.”
One such event recently landed by Visit Baton Rouge is the Southwest Regional Championship for United States Quidditch, a niche sport originally conceived by J.K. Rowling for the bestselling Harry Potter series. The event is being hosted—broomsticks and all—next February at the LSU UREC Field Complex. There were no financial incentives involved in recruiting the event, according to Coogan.
“LSU quidditch, as a club sport, is well respected,” Coogan says, adding it was a natural fit for Baton Rouge to host the tournament, which will host teams from Florida, Texas and Arkansas.
There are several other projects in the works for Baton Rouge, and though Coogan can’t identify any of the events now, he says an announcement will be held in two weeks for one of the events.
Coogan says there are still challenges stopping the area from attracting more events, such as available facilities to host tournaments.
“If we had facilities with increased capacity and quality,” Coogan says, “we could attract exponentially more events to the city. One of the constraints is our dire need to update the facilities here. Baton Rouge is a baseball real estate desert.”