Sports tourism boosts local economy - Tucson News Now

Sports tourism boosts local economy

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Big sports mean big money for Tucson.

A unique tour of the city demonstrates just how much is at stake to the changing face of sports tourism.

Tuesday afternoon the Metropolitan Pima Alliance (MPA) hosted their annual Wildride. The event explored the regional impact the tourism, sports and hospitality industries have on our local economy.

Baseball and soccer rank as local leaders for sports tourism and venues like the Kino Sports Complex help out by offering events year round.  From the Tucson Gem and Mineral show, to concerts to FC Tucson, one of the new projects.

In fact, FC Tucson just finished their third season and leaders say each year it continues to grow.

The sporting event is just one of 33 events in the Old Pueblo.  Together they bring in about $26 million and fill about $34,600 hotel rooms.

As for FC Tucson, it's one of the closest professional soccer venues from Mexico, meaning fresh money to the Old Pueblo.

"This year they invited a team from Mexico to come here," said Felipe Garcia, Tucson Convention and Visitors Bureau Vice President. "It was an outstanding crowd and it was a very lively crowd at the stadium because it created that nice competition between us and Mexico. Now we wonder, ‘OK that was a division 2 team from Mexico what if we bring a division 1 team?'  I'm pretty sure that MLS is going to be very interested."

FC Tucson leaders are also working on a multi-year agreement with major league soccer clubs throughout the country.

Another big industry, is convention tourism. 

City leaders understand that the TCC is one of the city's most important investments and renovations are needed.

It brings in more than $145 million to our local economy, but many believe it's a tired facility.

You may remember a few weeks ago when we told you about the settlement between Rio Nuevo and the city of Tucson.  They reached an agreement to initially invest $6 million on the arena.

Some ideas include upgrading the seats, bathrooms and concessions stands.

City leaders say this upgrade is vital for everyone, especially since a lot of the money comes from out of the area.

"The Rio Nuevo board is making a great decision in investing inside of the convention center.  Some of the amenities are going to help the gem shows and those conventions that we are bringing. It will make them happier, make sure they return their business here and hopefully make new business," said Garcia.

The TCC has more than 200 conventions a year.

They plan on making the renovations around the arena's event schedule.

Other stops on the Wildride included the Tucson Rodeo Grounds and the Tucson International Airport.

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