Dayton as a sport tourism mecca?

There was nothing in the Dayton Daily News today- amazing, since all three county commissioners were in attendance, the county director of economic development, the head of the Montgomery County Convention and Visitors Bureau- the list goes on. (I know, I was there doing something positive- so they would never breathe a word!).

So- here are the notes and the rankings of ideas generated by this group (dots are votes- each person was allowed X number of dots based on the number of ideas). Some ideas don’t make as much sense in this abbreviated format- some seem like duplication- but it’s a way to get a lot done in a few hours (it’s called Compression Planning).

Here are the notes (it was a public meeting- this is public info- and ideas should be shared – and work better that way)
Topic: Attracting more & larger youth/amateur competitions (and active lifestyle visitors) to our Region


Youth/amateur competitions help fill hotels, restaurants and stores

  • Our Region already has some very successful annual events (soccer, winter guard, etc.)
  • Other communities have developed a strong reputation around these type events e.g.: Indy
  • Most Counties already have mechanisms in place to try to attract these events
  • Some regions have even formed “youth sports authorities”
  • These authorities act like one-stop shops for event planners/families

Overall Project Purpose

  • To increase the number of visitors attracted by youth/amateur competitions (and active lifestyle visitors) by 20% by 10

Purpose of this Session

  • To identify the Region’s strengths/assets for attracting these events
  • To identify weaknesses/barriers to attracting these events
  • To identify 6 – 8 great ways to improve our chances of landing these events

Non-Purpose of this session

  • To simply move existing events around within our Region
  • To create more competition among counties in our Region

Strengths/assets of our Region in relation to amateur/youth competitions…

  • Geographically Dayton is a really good location (17 dots)
  • Affordability of hotels and venues (10 dots)
  • 8 Million people within a 2-hour drive (8 dots)
  • We treat people well who are coming in from out of town (6 dots)
  • Quantity of hotels available in various pricing levels (6 dots)
  • Does not take long to drive places once you are here (70 & 75) (5 dots)
  • Outdoor Adventure Facilities (5 dots)
  • Collaboration amongst a variety of organizations/facilities (4 dots)
  • Unique amenities – capitalize on mini vacation in conjunction with competitions (4 dots)
  • We have a Dayton Montgomery County Visitors Bureau (4 dots)
  • We have a Regional Recreation Trail Network (3 dots)
  • We have existing SWOSZ – 5 County initiative to book facilities, website (3 dots)
  • We have 3 Airports within a 1 hour drive (2 dots)
  • We have Quality hotels across the region (2 dots)
  • We have Pro Sports Teams – Bombers, Dragons, Silverbacks (2 dots)
  • We have a great variety of venues – readily available (1 dot)
  • We have good clusters of restaurants that serve people (1 dot)
  • We have strong High School sports traditions (1 dot)
  • We have an active sport club scene (1 dot)
  • We have a large park system (1 dot)
  • We have diversity of entertainment in the region. Broad choices of State Parks, night life, etc (1 dot)
  • We have an emerging paddle sports area on our rivers
  • We have a growing base of retailers
  • We have an event planners network to enhance or expand
  • We have 5 sheets of indoor ice
  • We have sports planners, like Tony, who can run the events
  • Our water supply is bountiful
  • We have proper weather conditions at the right time of the year
  • We have excellent college sports programs

Weaknesses/barriers of our Region in relation to amateur/youth competitions…

  • Lack of Capital to enhance and update existing facilities (19 dots)
  • Lack of $’s for sponsorships, particularly Corporate. (12 dots)
  • Lack of unique, new & large facilities (8 dots)
  • Assets/Facilities & Programs not collaborated. There is no consistency (8 dots)
  • Lack of National caliber facilities (9 dots)
  • Local Media negativity (9 dots)
  • No consistent communication between events, facilities & resources (8 dots)
  • Need for cooperative Marketing among facilities (7 dots)
  • We need resources to “play offense” with recruiting to event planners (6 dots)
  • There is a negative image of Dayton – more internal than external (4 dots)
  • We need better advertising for what we do here (3 dots)
  • It is difficult to coordinate private & publicly owned facilities (2 dots)
  • We have a lack of “backup” indoor facilities (2 dots)
  • We need a well developed map of facilities, restaurants & hotels on paper and the internet (2 dots)
  • Parts of the Dayton area are ugly (2 dots)
  • We have inadequate website connections and linkages (2 dots)
  • We have a lack of CVB event management (2 dots)
  • We have few carriers at the airport (1 dot)
  • Local permit regulations stands in the way (1 dot)
  • We don’t speak with one voice (1 dot)
  • Lack of sports branding (1 dot)
  • Old and outdated facilities (1 dot)
  • Lack of a way of finding facilities/events (1 dot)
  • Need one stop shop (1 dot)
  • North of town needs better infrastructure (1 dot)
  • Too many hotels to take advantage of rebates
  • No central complex, multiple contracts
  • Lack of ocean
  • Low dams and poor access to the river
  • Lack of access for recreational trails
  • Failing to keep national events here – Trap shoot and Hydroplanes
  • Summer air quality problems
  • Need more side events, evening activities
  • Public transit systems – problems connecting facilities
  • Lack of mountains

Great ways we could get a bigger piece of this pie for the Region…

  • Develop a dedicated fund for youth sports with a realistic figure (12 dots)
  • Sports authority with financial backing (10 dots)
  • Build Central Sportplex on Parkside homes – I-75 Visibility (9 dots)
  • Establish amateur sports as a community priority for marketing & investment (11 dots)
  • Develop a database of event planners and contact management system (7 dots)
  • Enhance mission of CVB (6 dots)
  • Take “Welcome Wagon” on the road to other events outside the region…Dayton Outreach Team (6 dots)
  • Bring back the “Welcome Wagon” (5dots)
  • Use & develop existing resources (local event coordinators) (6 dots)
  • Explore Public & Private fundraising (4 dots)
  • Coordinate all the independent efforts through one source (3 dots)
  • Define our niche in Youth Sports Tennis? Soccer? Hockey? (3 dots)
  • Involve corporate sponsors financially and physically (2 dots)
  • Create incentives for cooperation between hotels-retail and restaurants… (2 dots)
  • ID 2 – 3 areas to develop a Vision for those (2 dots)
  • Market with one voice to target markets (2 dots)
  • Build a good web presence that connects the dots (2 dots)
  • One stop shop for facilities, equipment support, infrastructure & event management (2 dots)
  • Create sales force for sponsorship and events to align (2 dots)
  • Better exploit grant opportunities (1 dot)
  • Adopt a 50 year goal to generate Olympians/pros (1 dot)
  • Look to local pro sports to create image/marketing (players- local connections) (1 dot)
  • Start coach training program (local skills development program) (1 dot)
  • Implement Unigov, reduce interjurisdictional stress (1 dot)
  • Create a professional group that meets regularly (1 dot)
  • Compile top 10 events we want to pursue
  • Light Rail connecting UD Arena to and thru Downtown – along the river
  • Creating a visual presence at events
  • Create a Montgomery County Sports myspace & blog
  • Create a mascot for all youth tourneys (prize giveaways, etc)
  • Unified facility development plan
  • Focus on unique facilities & programs for Midwest region
  • Create central clearing house managed by sports czar
  • Raise more money!
  • Consistent Elevator Speech

Holding Tank

  • How can we leverage this for area residents/attract residents
  • Develop metrics for measuring success & determine baseline
  • Invest in timing/scoring equipment (train volunteers)

Next Steps?

  • Establish Task Force – meet regularly
  • Analyze our top 3 successful events
  • Start talking up sports-plex and locations
  • Pinpoint unique strengths – strategize
  • Connect the Sports sub-culture
  • Look at enhancing website
  • Identify most likely events & related numbers
  • Teach organizations to link sites and info
  • Expand Metro Parks role

Who is responsible?
Tony Lupia – Task force to meet by July 25th
Task force to meet by July 25th

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14 Comments on "Dayton as a sport tourism mecca?"

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Teri Lussier

Thanks for sharing all this. I agree that there are bigger issues to tackle, but it is something positive and I apologize if these questions are repetitious as it’s highly possible I haven’t been paying attention: Is this strictly exploratory at this point, or is this a done deal and in the early planning stages? Is there a lot of excitement being generated by this idea or some hesitation to move forward?

David Esrati
David Esrati

This was the very first meeting. The people in the room are people who can make this happen- and it’s the early planning stages- there isn’t a lot of excitement yet- because only people who read my blog- or were in the room – or watching ch 2 news- would know about it so far…
the Dayton Daily Newsless hasn’t said word one- but then again- remember, they are bestest friends with Mandalay Entertainment who own the Dragons and are proposing “BallPark Village”

Teri Lussier

Ah. Lightbulbs.

I was referring more to the excitement in the room- are people truly stoked about making this happen? Is there enough passion about this to make sure it doesn’t fizzle out at some point?

Is there room for both BPV and sports tourism mecca?

David Esrati
David Esrati

Teri- the people in the room were believers- and have the expertise to do it. The fizzle out part- in part depends on how we market it.
As to room for both- if Ball Park Village is just the area around the Ballpark- and not crossing the river- sure. There is plenty of room over to Tech Town- and the whole Mendelsons complex to be converted into housing/work/play space.
The open space and the Parkside homes area needs to be complete sports- all the way to the Kroc center- and the combination of the two will change the whole shape of the city.

Teri Lussier

Thanks David.

I understand that geographically speaking there’s room. I suppose what I’m trying to assertain is simply how much competition and cooperation there is for two ideas that could and should work together but, for some reasons you’ve touched on here -DDNless/ Mandalay connection being the biggest- might find it difficult to peacefully co-exist. You were in the room, you’ve been instigating for awhile, ;) you would have some thoughts about the spirit of cooperation and how difficult it will be to get something like this accomplished.

But I guess at this point in the process, it’s too early to know.

David Esrati
David Esrati

As far as I know- every meeting about Ballpark Village has been behind closed doors- and not open to the public.
No one has stood up and questioned what we are getting for the money that they are looking for. No one has talked about highest and best use- and no one has talked about what to do with Mendelsons once he vacates- it’s a HUGE building- with tons of potential (would have been perfect for CareSource).
So far- I’m the only one looking at this without blinders on (publicly).

John Ise

Cool brainstorming. Keep your eye on Dan Foley, the brightest political spark in Dayton. Hmmm, Foley/Esrati in 08′?

Teri Lussier

Open discussions are good. I’m much more likely to throw my enthusiasm and support into something that is open, public, asks for community input, maybe even respects community input (now there’s an idea), than something that is secretive and shoved down my throat after the fact.

Thanks for keeping us in the loop.


I’d bet, if I were a betting man, somebody is going to drop the ball on this and Toledo will be the home of the Great Youth Sports Activity Center and Recreation Debacle.

Drexel Dave

There’s surely a lot you don’t believe in Gene. Is there anything you do believe in?


Actually, I do believe in this idea. I also think that Dayton is trying to re-invent itself much like most inner-city situations, with OK thoughts but not going to the root of the problem. It would be great, but if it ever happened Dayton would drop the ball. Leadership needs to focus on jobs, real jobs. Other shit shall come after that. It is sort of like hosting a wedding reception at the local dump bar before there is an engagment. We need to do real work, get our house in order, pop the question, hope for a yes, plan – plan – plan, and then go ahead with a big day. Why host a party in a house that isn’t clean. Maybe I am old school. I just don’t want continued jokes about Dayton and it lack of, well, everything. Out-of-towner will say, “well, right? Why not a real city?” I see it, you don’t. Dayton – THE CITY – needs to get it house in order. People don’t want to spend time in snooooooozevilllllllllleeeeeeee. And way too many SUVs in Dayton would show up, therfore David’s heart would BLOW UP. Can’t win either way. I think a big Brewery would be cool – attracting people with cash and being able to drown ourselves in this pit. Good Luck, or in this case, GOD LUCK!

Drexel Dave

Is anyone here with me that we seriously need to be considering establishing a “sin zone” in Dayton? I’m pragmatic as the next guy and am realistic with my expectations, but for real, a red-light district ala The Netherlands would help tremendously to get the cars and trucks from Warren and Greene county to stop trolling Dayton neighborhoods for prostitutes, making neighborhoods safer and nicer. It would be a simple market based solution – TAKE THE MARKET AWAY from the bad guys! Offer health care to sex workers, and in the meantime, watch the convention business in Dayton blow the roof off of the competition from other cities.

D. Greene

Dayton needs to decriminalize marijuana, for one thing.

Of course, since Ohio is fast becoming a police state, what with the new strip club ban and all, don’t hold your breath Drexel Dave.


I just love what Drexel Dave suggested. Though we are going in the opposite direction given recent lap dancing laws….

In any case, in the spirit of DD’s suggestion, since there IS already something like that at the very starting stages…..I give you the Sex District:

(don’t worry, there is nothing explicit in the link)