Michigan local sports tourism gets affected from the pandemic

Published on : Thursday, February 25, 2021

The local sports tourism industry in Michigan was affected badly in 2020 due to the corona virus pandemic, making it the state’s worst financial year.

“A typical year, around 50 million (dollars),” said Mike Guswiler from the West Michigan Sports Commission.

Last year, around $13 million was generated due to events being canceled in the wake of COVID-19. The commission usually puts on 90 events per year, which were cut in half last year. Even though summer baseball and softball tournaments had good turnouts last summer, they weren’t big winners.

Guswiler said, “The different ratio of travel teams versus local teams was much higher for local. So, you don’t have as much spending (or) new dollars coming in.”

The commission’s signature event, the Meijer State Games, was also affected from the pandemic.

“Some events were able to happen and socially distance, some we had to cancel,” Guswiler said. “We went virtual.”

However, high school winter sports is back in action and restaurants are operating at 25% capacity; hence, the commission is optimistic that it’s a sign of a prosperous year ahead for the sports tourism industry.

Guswiler said, “The lodging tax, that’s how we get a prominent amount of our funding. If we don’t have people staying in our hotels, our funding goes down.”

One of the biggest events scheduled for this year is the NCAA Division II outdoor track and field championships in late May.

“That’ll bring almost 2,000 athletes to town,” Guswiler said. “That’s a big one.”

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