A regional sports authority: a vision worth funding

How many WNBA players are from Dayton? How many NBA players? How many NFL? How many MLB? And how did they get there? Successful youth sports programs develop talent.  Now, imagine if instead of spending money luring companies with tax breaks- we lured them with an amazing youth sports development program- with first rate facilities, and even programs for adult sports leagues?

Investing in our own social capital is a guaranteed return- giving tax breaks is gambling with our future income streams. So, instead of paying all these slick salespeople we call “Economic Development Directors”- we instead invested in the following:

  • World class sports tournament facilities- complete with scoring and stats systems, with a coordinating mechanism to our travel and tourism industry for hosting huge sporting events like the Warrior Soccer Classic, the Police Softball Tournament, SilverSticks etc.
  • Centralized facility scheduling for practices and league events- area wide. Need a basketball court? Need an opponent? Need refs? Go to one place and get the whole caboodle.
  • An organized sports training program. Coaches, refs, scouts and tiered league programs to make sure every participant is playing to their best level. From beginner to elite leagues- it’s coordinated centrally so as to make sure our best get the best coaching and competition.

Instead of building more housing, retail or office space in the heart of downtown (Ballpark Village) we would build actual ball parks- for every level and every sport- from t-ball to roundball. High visibility from I-75 also sends a message that Dayton knows how to play- and where to play.

If you don’t think there is economic value to this- take a look at this article:

The economics are easy to understand, albeit difficult to calculate.

Unlike many adult events, youth tournaments bring whole families. They fill up hotels on the weekends, eat at restaurants, and buy Gatorade, socks and gas. And when it comes to raw visitor spending, some experts say the impact can far exceed professional athletics.

It may not be flashy or come with merchandising, ancillary commercial development and throngs of spectators, but youth athletics are lining city coffers.

“It’s huge, especially for a community Plano’s size,” said Mark Thompson, director of the Plano Convention & Visitors Bureau. “You can have a nice tournament with a bunch of adults. But for a youth event, when you bring in 50 teams, you also bring in mom and dad, sister, and grandpa and grandma half of the time.”

In Denton, a single girls softball tournament last year generated more than half the economic impact of that city’s share of a nearby NASCAR race, according to data maintained by the Denton Convention and Visitors Bureau. Read more… 

If this sounds like my Dayton Sportsplex idea – you’ve been paying attention.

Dayton is a hotbed of sports talent- but we could manage it even better as a way to generate income. By sitting at the “Crossroads of America” of I-75 and I-70 we could become a sports tourism destination. And with the huge Parkside homes acreage combined with Island Park, Deeds Point, Kettering Fields and the new Kroc Center- you start to have a formidable attraction- that can’t be duplicated elsewhere. Of course, we could give huge tax breaks and give away the land to Mandalay Entertainment to build a Super Wal-Mart, some New Urbanist faux downtown and more “market rate” housing on this prime space- if the powers that be, don’t wake up and smell the ball fields.

I spent some time last week talking to County Commissioner Dan Foley, who thinks that this may be worth looking at. The question is- can we get some other players to the table and get serious about investing in things within our own control and taking charge of our own destiny- or are we going to continue to kowtow to carpet baggers and predators with promises and plans to profiteer at our expense.

What do you think?

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