Sports is a serious business in the United States. Ticket sales for the NFL total $900 million annually, more than 22 million fans attend NBA games in a single season, and Major League Baseball generates more than $10 billion in annual revenue. But a smaller side to sports has produced some really big numbers right here in Omaha—youth sports.
In January, Omaha welcomed more than 1,000 young athletes from across the country who participated in the Northern Lights Volleyball tournament. In February, 410 volleyball teams competed in the Asics President’s Day Classic. In May, Omaha hosted the Midwest Basketball Showcase, which brought more than 250 teams to the city—with a waiting list of 30 teams wanting to play. But Omaha’s largest event for youth sports is the Slumpbuster Triple Crown Tournament. Every June this event brings more than 600 little league teams to the city from 37 different states.
When Omaha hosts any sporting event, those teams and fans stay in our hotels and eat in our restaurants. But the visitor numbers grow even larger when children play sports because they have some of the most loyal fans willing to travel—their parents. And that means more hotel room reservations and more money spent in our local restaurants.
This year, Omaha is on track to see a total economic impact of more than $45 million thanks to these young athletes and their families. The money these families spend contributes to our local economy and provides jobs, income, tax revenue, and community development projects we all enjoy.
Imagine this: Your cousins from the West Coast visit you for a week. At the end the week they write you a check for providing lodging, food, and entertainment. You use the money to landscape your backyard, including the fire pit you’ve always wanted. Now your family enjoys the fire pit every weekend, and when your cousins visit again, they will also enjoy the new backyard feature. That is kind of how tourism works, but on a much larger scale. When these sports teams and their families spend money in Omaha, we can make improvements to our city that everyone can appreciate.
So the next time you want to get a professional athlete’s autograph, do not overlook the little guys. After all, their money benefits all of us.
This column was printed in the June 2019 edition of B2B. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.