Events like 2014 Dixie World Series have huge economic impact for Bossier
The announcement last week that the 2014 Dixie Boys and Junior Dixie Boys world series are set to be played in Bossier shows the deep connection, both emotionally and economically, that the community has to sports.
“Our area loves sports. And they love the diversity of sports,” said Kelly Wells, vice president of sports and tourism for the Shreveport-Bossier Sports Commission. “We try to look at the different events, different venues, and different hotel needs and try to pair those up.”
The Sports Commission and their partners, like Bossier City Parks and Recreation who attracted the world series, bring in approximately 55 events per year.
“A Dixie Baseball representative said those guys did such a phenomenal job, they wanted them to host a World Series,” said Wells. “For amateur sports, we have a strong location — most teams want to drive three hours. By virtue of having a baseball event, I'm guaranteed 100 teams.”
Their major venues — the CenturyLink Center, Red River, Bossier Civic Center, Shreveport Convention Center, Independence Stadium, Hirsch Coliseum, and Centenary Gold Dome. These venues will host a variety of events including basketball, football, fishing, softball, gymnastics, wakeboarding, lacrosse, soccer, tennis and more.
The 2014 Dixie Boys and Junior Dixie Boys world series are scheduled to begin Saturday, Aug. 2 at Tinsley and Walbrook parks.
The world series each involve 12 teams whose players, coaches and supporters stay at local hotels, dine at local restaurants and shop at local retailers for five to seven days.
This is good news for Bossier City, which will add 1,400 hotel rooms by June of next year — meaning Shreveport-Bossier has more hotel rooms than Baton Rouge.
“Hotel builds were associated with Haynesville Shale activity and that's dried up, now it's up to us to generate demand for those hotels,” said Wells.
The year-old sports commission, an arm of the Shreveport Bossier Convention and Tourism Board, has its $1.5 million budget provided by three percent of the hotel occupancy tax.
And those spectators and participants for the events have an economic impact beyond the hotel stays.
Locally, the number used by the commission is an average of $125 — consisting of average hotel rate, one to two visitors, gasoline consumed, meals, shopping.
The Oct. 13 Louisiana Tech and Texas A&M matchup in the Independence Bowl in Shreveport will see school alumni stay Friday and Saturday night. And the game's new time and day, originally moved because of Hurricane Isaac, will benefit the area more than it would have on its pre-Labor Day spot.
“They are college grads and have higher incomes. I can expect $250-300 per day spent,” said Wells. “They will arrive Friday afternoon, stay the night, shop, head to casinos, eat, and then go to the game.”
Other sporting events bringing in money to the area include the Independence Bowl ($10-20 million), the Port City Classic (Labor Day weekend spot means more spectators), and the Bassmaster Classic.
This February's event saw 96,000 spectators pile into the area and brought in $20 million. While it was a decline from 2009's record attendance of 136,000, Wells said this statistic is misleading.
“Vendors made more money this time and people want to know how that's possible with 30,000 less attendance. The first year was during Mardi Gras weekend so we were already full, which saw less of a hardcore fan base. This year we put it on a different weekend and attracted a specific audience.”
Comparing these unique, one-time events to a regular semi-pro team, the economic impact is dulled. The real benefit at that point is the quality of life for the community.
“When you have 5,000 people at a Mudbugs (hockey) game, that's people that would be dining in north Bossier. I don't see it as new money,” said Wells.
To see the schedule of events and keep up with announcements, visit www.shreveportbossiersports.com