Sports tourism brings in $54 million for Henrico economy

Sports tourism brings in $54 million for Henrico economy

HENRICO, Va. (WWBT) - Sports tourism is booming in Henrico as it hosts seven tournaments in a matter of three short weeks.

This comes after the county hit a home run in 2018 bringing in nearly $54 million to the economy.

“Sports is a big piece of Henrico County,” Jason Schilling, Henrico Sports Tourism Coordinator for the Department of Recreation and Parks, said.

Teams from across the country and world have arrived in Henrico this week for the Metropolitan Junior Baseball League Classic.

“The fields that they have in Henrico County are probably second to none,” MJBL Executive Director William Forrester, Jr said.

“[It’s] absolutely beautiful,” Latricia Crawford, a baseball mom from North Carolina, said. “I love the setup, the venue, it’s pretty great.”

It's athletes and their families like Crawford who are helping boost the economy by opening their wallets in the county.

“[The cost] can get pretty high - $700, $800 sometimes,” Crawford said.

USA Softball Eastern National Softball July 23-28 Dorey Park
Bassmaster Eastern Open July 25-27 Osborne Landing
MJBL Inner City Baseball Classic July 31 - Aug. 4 RF&P Stadium, Glen Allen Softball Complex, Local High School Baseball fields
Flag Football World Championship Tour (East Coast Regional) Aug. 3-4 Glover Park
Major League Quidditch Championships Aug. 9-11 Glover Park
International Senior Softball Association World Championships Aug. 9-11 Glen Allen Softball Complex, Dorey Park
Gridiron Football Eastern Classic Aug. 16-18 Glover Park

“In 2018, we brought in $53.4 million of economic impact that was estimated [from sports tourism],” Schilling said. “That money is generally through restaurants, hotels and meals tax estimations.”

So far this summer, Henrico has been busy again.

Last week the Bassmaster Eastern Open was held at Osborne Landing, and drew a huge crowd.

“It brought in just under 400 anglers, but it represented 32 states and five countries,” Schilling said. “That was very neat and something different that we haven’t had since 2017. It’s grown quite a bit.”

From July 23 through Aug. 18, Henrico will host seven tournaments for baseball, softball, football and even Quidditch.

“For team numbers, we’re looking at 200-plus teams over this time frame and over 3,500 athletes,” Schilling said. “So, it’s a pretty significant [number] of teams and participants.”

According to Forrester, Henrico also has another great reason for hosting tournaments.

“It’s a great centralized location,” Forrester said. “It brings teams from the south or the north. We have a great relationship with the County where if it rains the field is going to get back up.”

These visitors are helping make Henrico one of the leading counties for sports in the state.

“At the end of the day, it provides an opportunity for the people,” Schilling said. “That the tax dollars get reinvested to things that make the county run on a daily basis.”

“It’s all worth it,” Crawford said. “It’s priceless. To give my son the exposure, is all worth it.”

Henrico County has several projects planned for its recreation and parks in the future. Those projects are funded from the 2016 bond referendum.

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