MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - While the Grand Strand continues to grow; the local sports tourism industry is booming as well. As one of the top travel destinations in the southeast, Myrtle Beach is trying to become a top destination for youth sporting events.
"Myrtle Beach is a great destination, but there are other places that have latched on to the idea if we build all these playing fields, they will come and play," said Mark Kruea, Myrtle Beach spokesman.
Just like in field of dreams, the city has built the venues and the players and their families have come. In 2015 alone, over one hundred and sixty million dollars were spent locally thanks to sports tourism.
"When you're talking about a tournament that has 200 teams for example, not only do you have all the players, but you have the families that come along, the mom, the dad, the other siblings, the grandparents that come. They're here to enjoy all that Myrtle Beach has to offer too," said Kruea.
The city spent over two million last year to host these events, but made over three million in sales and taxes. With all the different tournaments going on, officials don't believe the market is being over saturated.
"I think we have lots of room to grow, all though I think we're beginning to bump up against the capacity of our fields," he said.
HGTC Sports Tourism Professor Lawson Holland says the grand strand is on the cutting edge of events coming and we could become a youth sports mecca in the United States. As for now, summer is approaching and baseball tournaments are in the batter's box ready to hit one out of the park for local sports tourism.
After just one year of being open the city of Myrtle Beach says the new sports center has not turned a profit but is expected to in the next year or two. However they also point out the overall influx sports tourism brings to our local economy and businesses is more important than a facility's direct revenue.