Youth sports is hitting it out of the ball park

It doesn’t matter which season it is – basketball, softball, baseball, soccer, football, ice hockey, swimming or lacrosse – youth sports continue to grow, and parents spend thousands of dollars in league fees, uniforms, lessons and travel. Lots of travel.

A Fishers dad estimates his family spends $100 a weekend for games and tournaments that don’t require overnight travel. Once a season, the travel softball team will do an overnight trip, which just adds to the bill. But, his 14-year-old daughter, loves the game. So, he and his wife shell out $300 for uniforms, $25 a week for hitting lessons and all the other expenses. They’ll continue to invest in the game as long as their daughter wants to play.

A golf mom estimates she paid about $3,000 a year for her son’s registration fees and travel to multi-day tournaments. And, when he went to out-of-state camps in high school, the total annual figure was closer to $5,000.

They are both part of the explosive youth sports movement, which has become a $7 billion national industry in travel alone.

Hamilton County Convention and Visitors Bureau (HCCVB) saw the explosion in youth sports growth and formed the Hamilton County Sports Authority in 2008, to capitalize on this growing market and leverage the premier golf courses, sports venues and amenities as a way to bring more visitors to the area.

"Youth sports tourism wasn't even a (major) category four years ago, and now it's the fastest-growing segment in travel," said Dave Hollander, professor at New York University's Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports in a January CNBC article.

William Knox, director of the Hamilton County Sports Authority, predicts sports tourism in the county will continue to rise, especially with the opening this spring of Grand Park Sports Campus, a 400-acre sports complex with 26 basement and softball diamonds, 31 multi-purpose fields and  two indoor facilities.

Of course, that’s a complement to all the existing quality venues that have been a draw for local, regional and even national tournaments. Check out the sports calendar, to see what’s already on tap.

Get on the Sports Authority calendar

The Hamilton County Sports Authority offers a free and easy way to get more exposure for sporting events with its online sport calendar. Sports organizations are encouraged to submit events online at: www.visithamiltoncounty.com/sports/services.