Myrtle Beach has a winning outlook for sports tourism - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Myrtle Beach has a winning outlook for sports tourism

The biggest sports for the Grand Strand area, according to one manager, are baseball and softball. The biggest sports for the Grand Strand area, according to one manager, are baseball and softball.
The sports complex isn't open yet and is already booked solid. The sports complex isn't open yet and is already booked solid.

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – With demand outweighing supply, the Myrtle Beach City Council works to consider re-organizing the Sports Tourism Department.

The biggest sports for the Grand Strand area, according to one manager, are baseball and softball. Tim Huber is the Sports Tourism Manager with the City of Myrtle Beach and said those sports continue to bring teams traveling to the area for tournaments.

“We have the beach, the lodging, we have the whole package,” explained Huber.

Once a diamond in the rough, Myrtle Beach now has more diamonds in the dirt.

“Once they come once, we find they're hooked on the destination and coming back,” Huber said.

With 89 tournaments already booked, and millions of dollars expected to roll in, the Sports Tourism Manager is faced with a positive problem: demand is outweighing supply.

“From mid-June to mid-August, speaking on the fields, and the courts, we'll go every single day,” Huber said.

For years the city has pumped money into marketing the area for Sports Tourism, and experts believe it is paying off. In fact, Huber pointed out tournaments grew eighty percent in size, “both in the number of teams, the number of members on the rosters, and also the number of family members with the teams,” said Huber, adding that number comes from the year 2014, which was the first full calendar year that all fields at Grand Park were open.

With more teams coming to the Grand Strand, officials are trying to build more facilities. The sports complex isn't open yet and is already booked solid. An agreement is in place between the city and Horry County Schools to use those facilities for tournaments.

As Huber and his team scour through schedules, sometimes a tough decision has to be made.

“Who has priority over those fields?” Ron Andrews with the City of Myrtle Beach posed the question during this week's Early Budget Retreat. City officials used the example of a possible scheduling conflict between a local youth team and an out of state team bringing ten million dollars to town.

“I'm going to prioritize space for kids aged 6-15,” suggested Councilman Wayne Gray.

Council echoed Gray's opinion, leaning towards having local teams take priority. Tuesday's brainstorming session opened up the conversation, and the council plans to get down to details and help the Sports Tourism Department determine the best way to resolve scheduling conflicts.

The council is also considering re-organizing the Sports Tourism Department. Originally it was put under Recreation; that may change as the council figures out the best way to build up and move forward with Sports Tourism leading into the new fiscal year.

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