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Team Players

By PA

Fort Wayne Reader

2009-07-21


The City of Fort Wayne’s new grant program for sports-related tourism is already paying big dividends. Earlier this year, the City gave the National Soccer Festival a $10,000 sports business development grant to attract the Big Ten. It worked.

For the first time ever, the Big Ten conference’s seven men’s soccer teams will participate in the 2010 National Soccer Festival here in Fort Wayne.

“(This) announcement is exactly the reason why I created the sports development grant program,” said Mayor Henry. “I know Fort Wayne is a burgeoning market for events that provide family-friendly entertainment that attracts visitors. It makes economic sense for the City to be part of building this market.”

The City’s sports business development grant is designed to help attract sports-related events to Fort Wayne that will bring in significant out-of-town visitors, which in turn mean hotel stays, restaurant visits, shopping trips and all the other money-generating activities that tourism typically brings. “Sports tourism generates between $13 and $15 million annually in our community, so we appreciate Mayor Henry and the City of Fort Wayne recognizing the value of these outstanding sporting events and supporting efforts to bring more of them here through the sports development grant program,” said Dan O’Connell, president and CEO Fort Wayne/Allen County Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Recently, local sports tourism got another shot in the arm with the announcement that the IHSAA Girl’s Basketball Championships will be held in Fort Wayne for the first time in 2010. Usually, the games are held in centrally-located Indianapolis, but a full court press by local leaders, including City and County officials, prompted the tourney’s decision makers to chose Fort Wayne over other bidders.

Add to that the recent groundbreaking on a new 22-acre ice arena/hotel complex near Glenbrook Square (and not far from the booming Spiece Fieldhouse), and you have yet another example of the city’s growing potential to attract sports tourism dollars.

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