Group eyes sports tourism for boost to Pioneer Valley economy

  • John Doleva, president and CEO of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, fields questions after his speech about the Pioneer Valley Sports Commission during the Greenfield Chamber of Commerce breakfast Friday morning. RECORDER STAFF/ANDY CASTILLO

Recorder Staff
Published: 5/20/2016 9:55:49 PM

GREENFIELD — Tourism brought $19.5 billion to Massachusetts in 2014. Of that, $9.45 billion was brought in by sporting events, recent studies state.

The Western Massachusetts Sports Commission is trying to boost those numbers by increasing sports tourism in the Pioneer Valley, county business leaders were told Friday. The figures came from studies funded by the National Association of Sports Commissions.

“We analyze what the opportunities are,” said John Doleva, president and CEO of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, during the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce breakfast. “It’s big business,” he added.

The commission focuses on sports tourism, such as playoff games, golf tournaments, competitions and other events, including a square dance festival and the Color Vibe 5k run, which happened May 14 at the Franklin County Fairgrounds.

It also provides oversite and direction to businesses who want to hold events in Western Mass. They also write bids and proposals to bring tourism into the region.

When Boston bid to host the 2024 Olympics, the commission worked to propose water-related events in Franklin County.

“We had actually been designated,” said Mary Kay Wydra, president of the Greater Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau, “that’s where the water sports were going to happen.”

The bid was eventually lost. Wydra said the commission made connections with the U.S. Rowing team, which helped bring the 2016 U.S. Rowing Convention to the Valley.

“There’s been a big push,” she added, “to make Route 2 in Charlemont the ‘adventure capital’ of the state.”

You can reach Andy Castillo at:
or 413-772-0261, ext. 263
On Twitter, @AndyCCastillo

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