Myrtle Beach Final Report_April 22 - Myrtle Beach Area Marketing by linfengfengfz



          Sports Facilities
    Study and Recommendations

Submitted to:     Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce
Submitted by:          Don Schumacher & Associates, Inc.
Submitted on:                              April 22, 2009

    Executive Summary _________________________________ Page 1
    Background _______________________________________Page 5
    The Study _________________________________________Page 7
    Site Visits _________________________________________Page 9
    The Sports Event Travel Market ______________________ Page 26
    Economic Impact__________________________________ Page 30
    Observations______________________________________ Page 34
    Organizational Issues ______________________________ Page 42
    Conclusions ______________________________________ Page 48

    List of facilities visited ___________________________ Appendix I
    Interviews conducted __________________________ Appendix II
    Indoor facilities ______________________________ Appendix III
    Outdoor facilities _____________________________ Appendix IV
    Rights holders_________________________________ Appendix V


This report is in response to an agreement between the Myrtle Beach Chamber of
Commerce and Don Schumacher & Associates, Inc. of Cincinnati, Ohio. The scope and
purpose of the study are set forth in the “Background” section. We reviewed the number
and condition of the sports facilities in terms of their suitability as sites for competitions that
can produce visitor spending and beneficial economic impact for your area.

Our company has produced a substantial number of reports of this kind and we can assure
you the contents of this report accurately represent sports event travel industry “best


A series of site visits and interviews took place between January 26 and 29, 2009. We
combined the information obtained during that time with our extensive experience in the
industry. This experience includes almost forty years in venue operations, event bidding and
management, economic impact estimates, conducting feasibility studies and strategic
planning seminars, and managing the Greater Cincinnati Sports & Events Commission and,
since 1995, the National Association of Sports Commissions (NASC). Our company is also
an Allied member of the NASC.

We augmented our on location research with additional studies of applicable case histories
and supporting data from multiple sources including other members of the NASC, studies
conducted for others, and internet research. These findings should be of value as you
increase the number of bids for sports events and consider the impact of additional events
and possible new facilities on staff size and composition.


Myrtle Beach and Horry County, South Carolina are an attractive destination for sports
teams and their families and friends. Beyond all of the features and benefits you offer, sports
teams are particularly interested in condominiums and/or limited service hotels. You have
what they want in a destination.

We believe the current annual economic impact of sports events to be substantial. Efforts
are underway to compute an approximate annual total for direct visitor spending caused by
sports events that bring visitors. This report details how and why that number exceeds $5
million. It also indicates the potential impact of additional facilities and suggests the creation
of additional “home grown” events that can combine to triple the total to more than $15
million a year. And, since other destination resort areas are currently doing better than that,
we would expect your annual potential to reach something in the range of $25 million or
more depending upon a number of factors. Central to these spending estimates is the
methodology used to compute them. We suggest using direct spending only, even though
economists are in agreement that direct spending should be increased by a multiplier to
account for the induced effect of a dollar as it turns over in your economy.

Your area has a stronger pull as a destination for sports teams than your sports facilities can
support. There is a shortage of multi-field complexes and a lack of multi-court facilities. In
terms of playing fields your strengths run to baseball and softball but do not include soccer,
a sport with very large numbers of events that cannot be accommodated under present
conditions. Hosting a large indoor sports tournament is difficult due to the widely spaced
courts, primarily at high schools and middle schools throughout Horry County.

Availability of these courts is a further issue. It is difficult for schools to find more than a
few weeks in the summer where availability is not a problem.

The new Grand Park is an excellent example of the kind of facility tournament owners and
managers are looking for. It will have multiple fields in a park atmosphere with plenty of
parking and space to relax, combined with restrooms, concessions, play areas, etc. All of this

is in an area that features restaurants and shopping opportunities almost without moving the
family car. There are other multi-field complexes that can combine with Grand Park to host
large events, but the other complexes do not offer the same amenities.

There is proposed legislation that might offer some funding for facilities that will promote
tourism, but the impact may not be felt for two or three years assuming passage. We are
referring to S483/H3590. We understand that, if adopted, the resulting tourism fee of up to
one percent on gross retail sales would be used for tourism promotion for the first two
years. In years three and beyond a portion could be made available for facility development.

Staffing, too, will be an issue. We are providing a list of event owners we feel have events
that could take place using the facilities you already have. Clearly there is no reason to wait
on increasing the events producing visitors. The more events are obtained the more staff
required. Decisions will be necessary to insure each event is serviced properly. The sports
event segment of the travel industry requires more local involvement on production than is
the case with meetings and conventions.

The sports travel market is relatively resistant to economic downturns. If your area had the
facilities you would be in very heavy demand this year. Destinations that have the needed
sports facilities and offer plenty to see and do to the visitor will flourish. Tournament trips
are becoming “mini-vacations” offering relaxation and fun in addition to the competition.
Myrtle Beach and Horry County have everything but enough sports facilities for some

We recommend creation of a large complex of multi-purpose rectangular fields in a location
convenient to highways and the largest concentration of hotel rooms in Horry County. One
such area could be the land adjacent to Socastee Recreational Park. Two case histories are
included that demonstrate the kind of complex we envision.

If an indoor multi-court facility could be developed either publicly or in some kind of public-
private partnership like one or more of the case histories provided you would find yourself
in the event business year around.

In terms of focus, we recommend a concentration on younger age group competitions
(more people travel with youngsters) spring training events, softball, baseball, and a possible
annual Senior Games with multi-sport competitions for seniors, a growing and affluent
segment of the market.


The business of amateur sports has grown tremendously over the past twenty years. In 1989
there were about forty cities focused on the industry. Today that number exceeds four
hundred, and the number and type of events available has grown faster than the number of
cities. Our industry is proving itself: these events must take place, and they need hosts to
help with arrangements.

The Ripken Experience is demonstrating what can be done if the right kinds of facilities are
located in the right spot. Unfortunately, availability will be an issue due to internal needs for
camp dates. Fortunately, the teams coming to the camps are producing benefits through
their local spending.

Finally, tourism is Myrtle Beach and its surrounding area. Tourism is clearly the dominant
industry, and the convention and visitors bureau is the primary driver of this business. The
economic impact produced by tourism provides the funding needed for schools, roads, and
all other infrastructure and services. Further investment in tourism is an investment in the
future for every resident and governmental unit.

Further investment in sports tourism supports the only segment of the travel industry that
resists economic downturns.

We believe you have exceptional upside potential that will be limited only by facility
development and/or availability.


The Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce (MBACC) contracted with Don
Schumacher & Associates, Inc. (DSA) of Cincinnati, Ohio to conduct a survey and audit of
competition quality sports facilities in Myrtle Beach and Horry County, South Carolina.
Agreement to proceed was received by DSA on January 2, 2009. This agreement was based
upon a proposal submitted by DSA on September 16, 2008 and revised on November 4,
2008. The agreement includes at least the following tasks:

   Site surveys of the existing competition quality sports facilities in the area.

   Interviews with area sports organizers (i.e. high school administrators, youth/adult
   sports organization leadership, representatives of the hospitality industry, CVB personnel
   tasked with responsibilities for the sports event travel market and others we may jointly
   agree to meet with). The purpose(s) of these interviews will be to determine unmet local
   needs and what kinds of improvements or new facilities could better serve these needs.

   An analysis of the impact on room nights if modifications/additions are made

   A comprehensive report covering the suitability of existing facilities for regional or
   national competitions, a strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities analysis, and
   recommendations on how to best package your features and benefits to maximize use of
   these facilities.

   A comprehensive list of event owners able to use what you have, the way things are
   currently, with a focus on soft periods (hotel occupancy).

   An analysis of the economic impact of these events.

The site visits and interviews were conducted January 26-29, 2009. We were able to visit all
of the facilities in the county deemed appropriate for competitions that could bring visitors

into the area and are located close enough to the beach to be attractive to event organizers.
This eliminated some potentially suitable sites in the Western portions of the county. They
would require too much travel back and forth between other sites and the accommodations
where we expect the bulk of the visiting teams to stay.

Sites visited included area high schools, city and county athletic facilities, private facilities like
The Ripken Experience, and the facilities at Coastal Carolina University.

We also visited BB&T Coastal Field and the Myrtle Beach Convention Center.

This report summarizes our findings. With almost thirty years of experience in the sports
event travel industry, coupled with a strong background in facility management and nine
years bidding on and presenting sports tournaments and events and fifteen years managing
the National Association of Sports Commissions, we are able to assure you that what follows
is an accurate assessment of your opportunities to develop maximum room nights from
sports events and subsequent economic impact from visitor spending.


A list of facilities was created by the MBACC with the help of the school district, city
departments of parks and recreation, and the county department of parks and recreation. A
significant number of existing sports facilities were not included because they are intended
for recreational uses only and do not meet the needs of event organizers. As we conducted
the visits we were able to eliminate from consideration additional sites.

The list of facilities visited is included as Appendix I - Facilities Visited.

We searched for indoor and outdoor facilities suitable for tournament competition at various
age groups and skill levels. These included youth baseball fields and your professional
baseball stadium, community center gymnasiums, and high schools. We were particularly
interested in the proximity of fields or courts to one another. One of the unavoidable
discoveries was the fact that most facilities are not particularly close together.

It is important to note that tournament managers and event owners prefer to have all of the
courts or fields on one site or on just a few sites, or in close proximity. This simplifies
tournament operations, reduces the number of volunteers and officials, and provides a
compact site layout and minimal travel between games.

The Master Plan for Myrtle Beach Grand Park demonstrates this point. After it is complete
(and no definite year and month has been identified), there will be seven multi-purpose
diamonds which will be particularly useful for softball, two youth baseball fields, and four
rectangular multi-purpose fields. All fields are planned with artificial surfaces. This will make
the park very attractive to softball tournaments and other events like short sided youth
soccer. Plus, the fields will be in a park that will offer spaces for relaxation, lunch, or even a

As the site visits were made we paid attention to their proximity to hotels, restaurants,
shopping, and additional things to do for visitors. With economic conditions today, families

are looking increasingly toward opportunities to create “mini-vacations” around the trip. The
Myrtle Beach area is perfectly positioned to deliver maximum visitor satisfaction.

Our visits uncovered a number of exceptional facilities. All will be reviewed individually
along with the balance of the rest, but are listed here for easy reference:

    The Ripken Experience
    The plan for Myrtle Beach Grand Park
    Doug Shaw Stadium (as a venue for track and field competitions)
    BB&T Coastal Field
    Your accommodation/attraction/restaurant/shopping package
    The beach

We also made note of a number of above average facilities:

    Several high school baseball fields
    Some high school gymnasiums
    A few high school fast pitch softball fields
    Coastal Carolina’s baseball, fast pitch softball, and soccer fields and track and field
    Socastee Recreation Park (for soccer)
    The Myrtle Beach Convention Center (has hosted events including an annual high
    school basketball tournament)

As we conducted interviews with a number of event organizers we learned of a number of
possibilities for additional facilities, some of which could be very useful. These will be
covered later.


Our schedule started with visits to City of Myrtle Beach recreation facilities, continued on to
Coastal Carolina University and the City of North Myrtle Beach, followed by Horry County
Parks, Horry County Schools, and The Ripken Experience. We had seen the convention
center on an earlier visit.

It is very important to note the purposes for these visits: every event has specific facility
needs that must be accommodated. Within a sport, the size, type, and kind of field or court
could vary a great deal. Youth baseball, as an example, can be played on a fast pitch softball
field, but most baseball tournaments cannot be played on a slow pitch softball field. Soccer
tournaments vary greatly in their field sizes and numbers according to age group and
whether the games will be 3-on-3, 4-on-4, 7-on-7, or 11-on-11. One full size soccer field
(120 yards long by at least 70 yards wide) can accommodate several shorter fields for
younger players or “short sided” games.

If a soccer field is narrow (less than the 70 yard dimension above) it may not be appropriate
for skill levels beyond high school (and many high school fields are really too narrow for that
level of play…soccer fields inside a football field are usually no more than 60 yards wide).

Some events require lights and scoreboards but no seating. Others need press boxes and
public address systems. Some court games (i.e. volleyball) may need higher ceiling clearances
than others. A properly designed baseball field will have home plate at least 60 feet from the
backstop to prevent rebounds that favor the catcher or fielder.

The site survey has enabled us to determine which sports and at which ages you should
focus your attention. It has also allowed us to comment on the kinds of facilities that would
produce the best results in terms of visitor spending if it becomes possible to consider
adding to the existing inventory.

Pepper Geddings Recreation Center / Ned Donkle Athletic Field Complex

These fields are presently the most heavily used in the area. There are a
total of eight fields: two for youth baseball, five for softball, (three of
which have 200 foot fences for fast pitch), and two are used for slow pitch
(300’ fences). When necessary, all five fields could host fast pitch games.
All that is needed are temporary fences on the two larger fields.

An eighth field is a Miracle Field for baseball that is used for physically
challenged youngsters. Miracle Fields are springing up across the country,
and have become very popular due to their very special mission of taking
the game to boys and girls that could not otherwise enjoy the game.

All of the fields in the complex have lighting, scoreboards, seating, covered
and protected dugouts, and public address systems. Two of the shorter
softball fields do not have press boxes, but the rest do. Concession stands
and permanent restrooms serve all but one short field and the Miracle
Field. These use port-o-lets.

The short fields do double duty as youth baseball fields. It is common to see a variety of
tournaments taking place at the complex each season. Primary users are youth baseball and
softball events with an emphasis on fast pitch.

The playing surfaces are suitable for tournament play. When the new park opens, the City of
Myrtle Beach will have a significant number of fast pitch fields available, and fast pitch is the
growing game within the softball community.

Ashley Booth Field

This football and soccer stadium has seats, lights, and a small press box
and scoring. It is suitable for youth football and soccer, although the soccer
field is narrow (60 yards wide) which is generally true of soccer fields in a

football stadium. The stadium is most appropriate for recreational play.

Doug Shaw Stadium

This recently upgraded stadium is an excellent facility. It features an
artificial playing surface, and makes an exceptional football field and an
acceptable soccer field (it is only 60 yards wide compared to a minimum of
70 yards for elite levels of play). The real feature is the running track and
ancillary facilities for all track and fields events.

We did notice the primary grandstands and press box are located on the
East side of the stadium and the hurdle and dash events are set for the
West side. Since there are only about ten rows of bleacher seats along the
West side, a large crowd would have to sit on the opposite side of the
football field, a significant distance from the competition.

Doug Shaw Stadium is one of the nicest, best equipped track and field facilities we have
seen.. The renovations were completed in 2008, and it appears nothing was spared in
providing a top quality venue. The jumping pits provide for wind changes, there is a fully
equipped steeplechase course, and electronic timing and scoring has been installed along
with a sophisticated drainage system that enables water to drain quickly.

A number of photos of the stadium have been included to demonstrate the quality of the
finished product. It is suitable for all levels of track and field competition in any age group. It
is possible colleges and universities will not want to compete in a facility located on a high
school campus.

The stadium has an all-weather press box to suit the needs of many events. We were made
aware that it has been found too small for events needing substantial media coverage or
more than a small number of VIPs.

Pepper Geddings Recreation Center

The recreation center contains a pool and two gymnasiums plus a variety of rooms for
meetings and activities. The highest and best use is for residents. This is a recreation center,
just as the name implies, and is not intended for competitions (except, of course, for things
like senior basketball, adult leagues, etc.). The two courts have composite surfaces that are
not preferred for competition. Youth tournaments might be able to use these gyms. Most
tournaments require wooden floors.

Tennis Center

There are ten lighted courts and a clubhouse. The center is the home of the
Myrtle Beach High School teams, and the boys and girls teams have
experienced success in state competitions, with 22 state championships
between them since 1979. Besides high school events the center does host
three sanctioned USTA events each year plus two additional events
primarily for residents.

Because the center is located in the recreational complex that includes the
high school, stadiums, and ball fields there is ample parking. The courts
themselves are in reasonably good condition, but there is a large number of
additional tennis complexes located at several resorts. These could
substitute for or be used in combination with the Tennis Center courts.

Canal Street Recreation Center

This, too, is exactly what its name suggests. Its purposes are for recreational activities for
residents. It was never intended for tournaments and does not have the features required.

Grand Park (site of former Air Force base)

We have rated the new park, currently under construction, as an
exceptional complex. Two former fields have been lost to new
construction, leaving two softball fields for now (slow pitch dimensions)
and two youth baseball fields (200’ fences, same as for girls fast pitch).
These fields are acceptable for tournament play because of their condition
and features. All four have lights, but the two slow pitch fields do not have
press boxes, scoreboards, or permanent restrooms.

We understand these fields will be lost after completion of the new park.

Grand Park (under construction)

As noted previously, the new complex will offer everything a tournament wants including an
accessible site with plenty of restaurants and shopping nearby. The Grand Lawn, ponds,
landscaping and 1400 parking spaces support the fields. We expect this to become a magnet
for smaller tournaments that can make do with seven fast pitch fields and the youth soccer

Large fast pitch tournaments use as many as thirty to forty fields, but there are smaller events
that will do very well here.

Crabtree Memorial Gymnasium

Crabtree has an excellent main gym with one full size court or two shorter
side courts. It is the kind of floor events are looking for, but one floor by
itself does not lend itself to efficient use in a tournament format with other
gyms in other parts of town.

H. Blue Huckabee Recreation Complex

This three-field complex is owned by the City of Surfside Beach. There are
two 200’ youth baseball or girls fast pitch fields and one larger softball field
for adult play. This field could be converted to fast pitch with a temporary
outfield fence. The park has a comfortable area for relaxation that includes
sheltered picnic tables and a children’s play area. Because the fields have
lights, scoreboards, press boxes, public address systems and permanent
restrooms and concessions, it is tournament friendly.

The shorter fields are used by Dixie Youth Baseball and all three are well

Central Park – City of North Myrtle Beach Park Department

This is actually a complex of two 200’ youth baseball fields that have grass
infields, one 275’ field, a t-ball field, a soccer field and an additional small
soccer field for short-sided games. An existing gymnasium is getting an
additional new gymnasium, which is under construction. The new
gymnasium may be useful for events.

The fields are in good condition and have lights, scoring, seats, press
boxes, etc.

Except for the fact that they are somewhat disconnected from fields to the South, there is
certainly no reason not to use these fields for youth baseball events and slow pitch softball.

North Myrtle Beach Aquatic & Fitness Center

This is a very nice, almost new facility. It has an eight lane, 25 yard
swimming pool with electronic scoring and timing systems. It is suitable

for many “short course” events. A “long course” pool is 50 meters long.
Long course pools are more expensive to construct and maintain, and are
not necessary for the uses for which this pool was designed. There is no
seating, but there would be room for limited bleacher seating on the pool
deck. It is the nicest pool in the study.

The gymnasium is very nice, but has a sport court floor instead of a
wooden basketball court. This actually makes it very suitable for
badminton, and six courts have been marked and ready for play. It would
also be a good site for volleyball because the floor surface is suitable for
that sport, too.

Mclean Park

This is a very nice youth baseball field. It has received a good deal of care
and has been well maintained. It has a nice field, modest lighting, some
seating, covered and protected dugouts, a press box, and electronic
scoring…but is one field and not part of a complex. The fields at Central
Park are not too far away, and these could be combined if necessary.

Coastal Carolina University

Brooks Stadium

This is the home field for the university football team. It has a capacity of
about 7500 spectators, and is football specific…no soccer, no track around
the field. The playing surface is grass. Everything about Brooks is first-
class, which we learned is a trademark of all university facilities. They are
well maintained and present the university and community in a first class

In addition to the university schedule, Brooks has hosted the annual All-American Bowl high
school all-star game. This event is presented by the Offense/Defense Camps of Myrtle
Beach. Although this game has not been selling many tickets as yet, it has the potential to
draw substantially larger crowds that could consume hotel rooms.

Charles L. Watson Stadium

This is the home of the Chanticleers baseball team. It is beautifully
designed and maintained, and has an artificial surface outside the base
paths and natural grass on the playing field. Baseball is an important sport
for the university, and the field shows its importance.

Watson has excellent dugouts, ample permanent seating and support
facilities, and is lighted. Recent updates include a new scoreboard in center

Coastal Carolina Softball Field

The woman’s softball team has won 70 % of its home games, and we
expect the ballpark has something to do with this. A new press box is a
recent addition. The field fits the theme of the athletic facilities: pavers,
wrought iron fencing, and brick seating areas and walls and landscaping tie
the stadiums and parking areas together with Kimbel Arena.

This playing surface is good, and the field has what is needed for NCAA
Division I competition.

Kimbel Arena

Although the arena no longer meets the needs of the university (very small capacity and
limited features) it is perfect for summer basketball events. In fact, it is a very nice size for

tournament championship games. Several plans have been put forward to replace the arena
when possible, and several possibilities have been discussed to date.

Like many other growing schools, the area might be better utilized for classrooms. In the
meantime, Kimbel is the home of both basketball programs.

Coastal Carolina Soccer Field

The university has a very nice competition soccer venue. It is designed for
elite levels of play, and is long enough and wide enough to meet elite level

This field is grass and kept in excellent condition. It is lighted, has some permanent seating,
and electronic scoring. It does not have a press box or a permanently installed public address

In terms of tournament use, it has been utilized for college tournament play. Its best use for
a tournament would be as the championship venue if a large field is required by that event.
Youth soccer events do not need fields of this size.

Coastal Carolina Track and Field Facility

This is an excellent eight lane track. It is not suitable for major competitions because it does
not have lights or a press box and permanent seating, but it meets the needs of the university

We assume it might be necessary to move to another location to make room for more
classrooms, etc. as the university continues to grow.

Tennis, Swimming

Coastal Carolina has facilities for both but neither are tournament sites. The tennis facility
has nice courts, and they are used for collegiate competitions. We would not suggest it for
major events due to size and space limitations.

Horry County Parks Department

Socastee Recreational Park

This is the largest soccer complex we visited. It is the home of the Coast
Futbol (Soccer) Alliance. The park has a total of three large fields that are
usually divided into smaller fields for various age levels. The playing
surfaces are in good condition despite being on very low ground. There are
surface water issues that can interfere with play.

The park has a play area, tennis courts, and a BMX bike track.

We understand approval may have been granted to add more fields and
create a retention pond to help deal with the drainage issues.

Socastee Park is adjacent to a failed residential development. The opportunity exists to create
a large complex with perhaps twelve to fifteen fields. If this could be accomplished, it would
put your area into competition for most of the larger tournaments that are available for bid.
It would also give the Coast Futbol Alliance the opportunity to build large invitational events
that would produce large numbers of visiting teams for the area.

The basics are here to build upon. This area has the potential to become “the” place for
events needing rectangular fields (soccer, lacrosse, rugby, youth football, etc.).

Atlantic Center

The Atlantic Center is simply a large, flat, grassy area in an industrial park which is used by
residents for recreational soccer. This is not a planned and developed sports facility.

Waccamaw Park

Waccamaw has two 200’ foot fields and a third that has shorter dimensions
of180’ and 160.’ One of the larger fields is used for fast pitch softball and
the other for youth baseball (it has a grass infield). The fields have lights,
protected dugouts, electronic scoring, press boxes, etc. and appear to be in
better than average condition. They are popular and are in heavy use
throughout the seasons.

North Strand Recreation Center

Horry County is in the process of constructing a new indoor recreation
facility on this site in North Myrtle Beach. The most significant part of the
new building from the standpoint of events will be its 94 foot wooden
basketball floor. This is the size used for collegiate competition, and it is
evident this will be a very nice tournament quality floor.

The central issue will be whether this single floor can or should be
combined with others to make sense as a tournament site.

This same property includes a play area and a lighted 300’ softball field in average condition.
There is a lighted football field as well, but we would suggest recreational use for both fields.

Also on site is an area that has been cleared and planted with grass and
used for seven rectangular multipurpose fields. The recreational leagues
playing here mark out the fields and provide what is needed for
competition. At the moment, it looks more like the field at the Atlantic

Center above. An offer has been made by the user groups to install lights.

Depending upon finances, this area could be developed to produce an excellent multi-field
complex as the northern equivalent of Socastee Recreation Park.

This completed the tour of county parks.

Carolina Forest High School

This is the first high school we visited. They have a
very nice baseball field, a better than average fast
pitch softball field, and two very nice indoor
gymnasiums. One of these gyms is an auxiliary gym
and the other is used for varsity competition.

All four of these fields or courts are suitable for tournament use,
and do host games most summers. The main gym is also a very
good site for volleyball.

St. James High School

The St. James Sharks have an excellent baseball field, a good fast pitch
facility in Finway Field (we love the name!), and a nice competition gym
for basketball and volleyball. These fields and/or gym can and are
combined with other high schools to suit the needs of tournaments. They
do not have a second gym.

We did not travel further South to Waccamaw High School because we
would probably be too far from the area where visitors will want to stay.

Socastee High School

The baseball and softball fields are tournament friendly, although we did
notice the baseball field has relatively short dimensions for high school
competition (311’-365’-311’).

The main gym is similar to the one at St. James, and it is particularly suited
to volleyball. This gym has a high ceiling and good lighting and the
combination makes it a good choice for volleyball as well as basketball.

Socastee has an auxiliary gym that can be used in a basketball tournament.

Forestbrook Middle School

This middle school gymnasium has a tournament quality floor. We
understand there is a total of six gyms similar to this in eleven middle
schools. These can be combined with the high school gyms to host large
basketball tournaments.

Myrtle Beach High School

We have already discussed the stadium and will not do so again here.
Myrtle Beach High School has a nice main gymnasium that is used for
special events. Its high ceiling makes it a good choice for volleyball as well.
The auxiliary gym is better suited to wrestling and dance competitions.

The baseball field is very nice and receiving more improvements in early

The high school softball field is in excellent condition and well equipped
for events.

Myrtle Beach Middle School

Since it is on the same campus with the high school, the gym could be
combined very easily with the main gym at the high school.

The auditorium would be a good site for team meetings and/or special ceremonies.

North Myrtle Beach High School

The school has a main gym and two smaller gyms. One of the smaller gyms
is excellent for volleyball.

NMBHS has a very nice baseball field, distinguished
by grass base paths.

The fast pitch field appeared to be very nice as well,
but we were unable to gain access.

Cherry Grove FFA Camp

We stopped here because we were in the area and wanted to make sure what was there.

It is a camp and not a tournament site.

Loris High School

Loris is as far North and West as we went. We did not travel to Aynor or
Green Sea Floyds High Schools because of distances from the beach.

There are some county fields adjacent to the high school that might be
useable. They would appear best used for youth baseball and softball.

Loris High School itself has very nice baseball and softball fields and a
good quality main gym. The auxiliary gym is also very nice, and is the home
of one of the state’s most successful wrestling programs.

It may be difficult to include Loris in many events due to the distance from North Myrtle
Beach and the beach itself. Its facilities warrant inclusion when possible.

Conway High School

Conway is the last high school visited. It has the nicest gym and auxiliary
gym we observed. Both gyms have adequate seating for events.

The baseball and softball fields are also among the best.

The athletic complex benefits from being among the newest in the area. It
is very clear they have the strong support of the athletic booster
organization. The complex does have permanent restroom facilities, and is
nicely planned and landscaped. Although the football stadium deserves
special mention, there are really no particular uses for high school football
stadiums except for opening or closing ceremonies, etc.

We would recommend both gyms and the two fields whenever possible.

Conway is close enough to Coastal Carolina to consider combining the gyms or fields for the
same event.

BB&T Coastal Field

The area is fortunate to have a minor league ball park. BB&T Coastal Field’s highest and
best use for baseball tournaments is for semi-final and championship games. It also
combines well with The Ripken Experience despite the differences in playing surfaces (all of
the fields at Ripken are artificial).

Convention Center

This is an excellent, well-planned and appointed building that should be used first and
foremost for meetings and conventions. If costs can be overcome, it has served well as the
home of the annual Beach Ball Classic holiday high school tournament. This event also
includes two women’s college games featuring the University of North Carolina and Coastal
Carolina teams playing teams from outside the area.

Centers of this kind make a good site for wrestling events and all other mat sports, including
the martial arts.

Dance competitions, drill teams, and cheerleading competitions are also good potential
sources of events that will produce significant numbers of visiting teams.

An issue is rental rates. Convention centers generally charge more than can be afforded by
most amateur sports events. This issue is a common one across the country. It takes careful
planning to schedule around other uses and resolve affordability issues. For example, a
baseball field will rent for $100/day. Courts as usually rented by the hour. In both cases the
facility comes complete and ready to go. The holiday basketball tournament requires extra
days for set up and take down in addition to game days. If a court rents for $100/hour that
would equal $800-1000/day, complete. The center will cost several times that and will not be
available for other uses during the rental period.

Your center is at the very focal point of the entire area.

The Ripken Experience

The complex includes five youth baseball fields and two 90 foot diamonds designed after
some of America’s historic ballparks.

Fourteen batting cages are scattered throughout the site, along with a three acre training

This complex is designed around the perfect team experience. Players can receive coaching
and training tips, warm up before their games, and work on skills when time allows. Some
teams decide to stay at Myrtlewood Villas. In 2009 they are also offered the option of other
accommodations at the choice of each team. It will not be a surprise to spot some of these
teams on the beach.

Generally, teams will spend a full week in competition. With a schedule as packed as this
one, it can be difficult to select appropriate dates for outside events. However, the complex
is interested in working with the community on events that can make sense for everyone.

Every field in the complex is made of turf. This permits heavy wear, provides a fast turn-
around after rains, and guarantees the games will be played, which makes promoters happy.

Because this is a privately owned complex with its own intensive schedule it should be
assumed that scheduling outside events can be a problem.


By the late 1980’s about 35 cities were competing to host sports events. In 2009, that
number is growing beyond 350 cities/counties. Each has a formalized way to compete.
These organizations range from sports commissions to convention and visitors bureaus and
some chambers of commerce.

The industry is currently experiencing a growth in state associations. These range from
networking opportunities to funding for events that can show substantial numbers of
visitors. It now also appears some park and recreation departments will become much more
active bidders on or creators of sports events that attract visitors.

The Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce/Convention & Visitors Bureau is one of several
South Carolina based organizations active in the industry.

There are two basic types of events that produce visitors:

    1. Ticketed events
    2. Participant events

In South Carolina ticketed events like the Beach Ball Classic, the NCAA basketball
tournament, and a variety of ACC Championship events account for a very small percentage
of events. Nationally, ticketed events represent only about five percent of all of the events.

Our focus in this report is on the other ninety-five percent of events, and these do not
produce any significant amount of ticket sales outside the family and friends of participants.

The total universe of sports events includes professional sports and all of the regular season
college/university and high school events. None of these are included in what has become
the amateur sports event travel market, which forms the basis of the participant event
portion of the sports industry.

It is important to make note of the large amount of travel occasioned by individual pursuits
in activities like golf, tennis, sailing, fishing, rock climbing, scuba, birding, camping and the
like. Every destination wants to keep some of its focus on these individual pursuits, and golf
is a perfect example of a sport important to your area.

Amateur team sports events produce athletes, coaches, officials, family and friends and
sometime media. These people will remain in the area for the competition, and may also
come early and stay later. Extensions in stays are becoming more and more important as
tournament trips become “mini-vacations.” First noticed in response to higher gasoline
prices, such trips serve multiple purposes, including keeping the family together to enjoy
common experiences.

Every effort should be made to impress upon all visitors the wealth of experiences awaiting
them in Myrtle Beach and Horry County.

Another characteristic of participant based events is the relative lack of need for substantial
seating. Each individual contest has a fairly small number of spectators, and where permitted
most spectators bring their own chairs…especially for soccer, baseball, softball and other
outdoor events. Gymnasiums can have limited seating because small crowds are common
for each individual tournament game until the latter stages of the event.

With the changes in our economy, it is believed that those communities recognized as travel
destinations should be able to grow their business in this increasingly important market
segment. The ability to emphasize the beaches and wealth of activities available to visitors
can actually cause you to receive inquiries beyond the events that you may have targeted.

An exceptionally important facet of your strength is the number of condominiums available
for teams. They permit multiple occupants and have kitchens and laundry facilities, features
that are very important to teams.

There are a number of things to keep in mind when booking sports teams:

    1. Most events need group rates
    2. Some events will want group rates and complimentary rooms without a contract.
    3. Some will require a room contribution system that collects a specific amount per
        room per night.
    4. Room contributions can be difficult to collect.
    5. Some teams will do whatever they can to avoid inclusion in a room block.
    6. The higher these contributions get (we have seen them above $30/night) the more
        difficult it is to keep everyone in the block.
    7. All too often, the peak season for sports events coincides with your peak
    8. Most events require some form of financial assistance.
    9. Most events require local volunteers.
    10. It is usually good practice to identify all of the local assistance that may be needed
        prior to submission of the bid.

Many event organizers are looking for sports complexes. They prefer multiple courts or
fields in each site. This reduces the number of officials and volunteers, reduces or eliminates
travel between competition sites, and generally makes the event run more efficiently.

Event organizers also want to know how close the venues are to the hotels or
condominiums and what kinds of restaurants and shopping opportunities are available.

Is the industry recession proof?

An increasing amount of attention is being paid to the special dynamics of team travel. Most
of the events need to take place each year. Many of them are age group events. If your 12
year old daughter’s team does not play, they cannot compete as twelve year olds. That
opportunity comes along only once, and most families make sacrifices to make sure their
kids have the experience.

Our industry is not recession proof. It does resist the decision not to take a vacation trip.
That is why we are seeing so many teams making the trips for competition and for
relaxation. All projections point to a 2009 as no worse than flat to 2008…an excellent
performance considering circumstances. Many communities are actually reporting increases
in the number of events and visitors.

This is the year to separate yourselves from your competition: offer more event production
services, prepare special packages, and convince folks to stay a while! Destination markets
will have an advantage over those sports markets where the competition and the competition
venues must be the primary reasons for selection of the site.

We understand the booking policies for city fields are under review. For the purposes of this
report, the resulting policies need to allow for the advance booking of tournaments that will
assure large numbers of visitors. For example, at the date of this report it is already too late
to book a new tournament with visiting teams in 2010. All dates have been booked, and
most to local events. Our industry requires bookings one, two, three or even more years into
the future. Additionally, revisions to the policy should allow for lower or no rental costs for
events that can show substantial visitor spending.


The primary element (most will say the only element) in economic impact is visitor spending.
When people travel to a destination outside their own area, the money they leave behind is
new money that creates economic impact.

When residents spend in their own market, the spending is part of the economic activity
taking place in the market. These dollars at not new and do not carry the impact of visitor
spending. The assumption is that spending would go to something else in the home market.

Your area knows well the value of visitor spending. Vacationers and conventioneers have
been coming for many, many decades. A brief glance at the number and variety of
accommodations, restaurants, shopping opportunities and attractions are proof: the area
understands and welcomes visitors.

Although reasonable people will disagree on the best ways to compute economic impact,
everyone agrees having substantial numbers of out-of-towners is a good thing. Sports events
are becoming an increasingly effective way to deliver economic impact through new

The National Association of Sports Commissions (NASC) has created an economic impact
template for use of its members. The MBACC has access to this tool. It is a web based
template that provides the way to estimate what might happen if the event is acquired or to
estimate what might have happened after the event is finished. This template will give an
estimate of direct visitor spending (the most conservative way to estimate impact) or will
accept your multiplier to compute the induced effect of spending. It can even allow for
displacement estimates (other visitors would have occupied some of the rooms and
restaurants if the event had not come to town).

This template has been provided in place of the single most effective way to create an
economic impact estimate: a formal study. Nothing replaces a carefully constructed study.

These can be conducted by a commercial market research firm or by a university professor
and a team of students conducting on-site interviews. The latter method is used by the
NCAA and many other major event owners. The cost savings cannot be denied.

If a study cannot be conducted and if a decision is reached not to use the template above
because some of the input information is missing (i.e. estimates of daily visitor spending, the
average number of nights for each stay, etc.), the NASC recommends use of the following

Number of overnight visitors, times the number of nights, times the amount spent per day
by tourists in your market.

A 40 team youth tournament can be used as an example. Tournaments like these could begin
on a Friday and end on Sunday. So, everyone will stay two nights.

In order to compute an estimate of visitor spending, some assumptions are necessary. What
follows can be supported by experience:

    40 teams
    Friday afternoon through Sunday afternoon
    Players are 11-12 years old
    Each team brings 40 people (athletes, coaches, family and friends)
    Each person stays two nights
    Each person spends an average of $125/day on their portion of lodging and their own
    food and beverages, shopping, etc.)

An event of this kind can produce results like these:

   40 teams x 40 people = 1600 people (all visitors)
   1600 visitors x 2 nights = 3200 visitor nights
   3200 x $125 = estimated direct visitor spending of $400,000

These results depend on the number of visiting teams. If five area teams are included in the
event, 45 total teams will be needed.

An extremely important element is often overlooked: it is impossible to know what did
happen or what would have happened anyway. The consequence is that the numbers must
always to be referred to as estimates and not as facts.

Economists include multipliers in their estimates. This increases the final number by the
multiplier in use. Unfortunately, the higher the claims get, the more the event owner wants
for the event. Please remember economists do not produce these events.

Economic Impact Estimates for Current Events.

We understand an effort is underway to estimate the economic impact of the events
presently taking place in the area. These events include Big Shots, Triple Crown softball,
Spring Training for high school and college softball and lacrosse teams, the three sanctioned
tennis tournaments, the series of small softball events run by area promoters and sanctioned
by the United States Sports Specialty Association, the impact of the teams booking weeks of
competition at The Ripken Experience, and the holiday high school basketball tournament
held at the convention center. Although there are others, this sample makes the point that
significant value will be found when the estimates are complete.

The simple formula of the number of visitors time the number of nights times the amount
spent by a tourist should help. The 40 team event detailed above can be applied to spring
training for high school and college teams.

We understand there are at least four weeks of college softball spring training and a week of
high school softball and lacrosse. These two weeks of high school events are bringing 100
teams a week. Based upon the 40 team example, a 100 team training event could approach
$1 million a week in spending. Some caution is needed, however. Spring training events tend
to bring fewer visitors with each team than an actual tournament. Even so, a 100 team week

could produce about $800,000, and four such weeks could run $3.2 million in estimated
direct visitor spending!

We regard spring training as a major growth opportunity. The appeal of the area coupled
with additional facilities (Grand Park could be the new “mecca” for spring softball training)
could produce outstanding results!


The purpose of this section is to set forth some of the underlying factors that will impact
your ability to increase the benefits of sports tourism. It is important to start with a brief
look at your strengths and weaknesses, since every community has a different combination.
The industry is driven by facilities. They are available for use, they are available but cannot
be used when needed, or they are just not there.


Horry County has a good supply of basketball courts and baseball and softball fields. There
is an excellent track and field stadium, the convention center can handle mat sports, martial
arts, cheerleading competitions, etc. and some of the gymnasiums are acceptable for youth
volleyball. So, your primary sports are:

    Dance competitions
    Mat sports, martial arts
    Softball, primarily fast pitch
    Track and field

To this list can be added sports that require roads, off-road courses, beaches, and water


    Marathon, Half marathon, etc.
    Off shore power boating
    Cross country
    Fishing tournaments

Finally, you are a recognized destination! People want to visit the area. To be able to visit in
connection with a sports tournament exposes what you have to potential return visitors and
encourages them to come early and stay after the event has concluded.

Your area has what people look for in a destination:

    The beach
    An excellent choice of accommodations across all price points
    An emphasis on condominiums, the most team friendly of all
    Restaurants of every description
    Lots of retail shopping
    Many different tourist attractions
    Plenty to see and do
    Experienced travel and sports event leadership
    A reasonable collection of competition venues

These strengths combine to convince us you should work to become a major factor in
spring training. Your weather is acceptable compared to Central Florida (where exceptional
number of teams train) and you are much closer to home for most teams seeking warmer
weather sites, plus you have the condos and the beach.

Your weather advantage over Florida extends to Summer months. There is less rain in your
area and this gives tournament managers better assurance they can get all games played.


Everyone has these. Communities with the largest number of soccer fields do not have
enough hotels and things to see and do. Places with all of the basketball courts you could
want do not have much if anything to engage visitors.

The most noticeable short-comings include:

   A lack of rectangular fields, primarily for soccer.
   A shortage of multi-field rectangular field complexes.
   A lack of multi-court competition facilities.
   A shortage of multi-field complexes for baseball (with the exception of The Ripken
   The ocean causes a North-South-West travel pattern, and means more miles for each
   team. It can also mean traveling from North Myrtle Beach to Surfside Beach for the
   same event.
   Rental fees for use of the convention center as a sports venue. This is an issue shared
   with many other communities, but your lack of another large indoor facility makes this
   issue somewhat more important to you.
   One of your strengths, track and field, can be impacted by a shortage of events and the
   reluctance of many colleges and universities to compete in what is perceived as a high
   school venue.
   Staff limitations: it takes time to sell, organize, and service each event. We will address
   this issue.

The primary impacts of weaknesses:

   It is difficult to host large events that need fields or courts
   The shortage of multi-field and the lack of multi-court facilities make event management
   more difficult. Event owners who live in the area (Big Shots basketball comes to mind)
   are better able to adjust to the need for multiple sites all around the county than an
   outside owner. They know the area and can adapt to what must be done. Other event

owners may use the lack of concentrated facilities as a reason not to consider your
invitation. The reason? A concentration of facilities requires fewer workers and officials,
less travel between venues, more games per day, and more effective event management.
Because of the shortage of fields and the lack of field complexes, you have not made any
meaningful penetration of the soccer market, one of the single biggest markets in
traveling youth sports, and a sport with exceptional concentrations of traveling teams in
the Eastern portion of the country.
“Soccer fields” are certainly used primarily for soccer. Increasingly, however, there will
be opportunities for lacrosse, rugby…and, if new fields are built with artificial turf, field
hockey could be added and all rectangular field sports can be better accommodated
without fear of excessive wear.
We believe economic issues will cause more event owners to contact you, and business
will be lost due to these shortcomings. The owners will look at all the reasons why they
would like to come to Horry County, contact you, and ultimately select another
destination due to a lack of facilities even though you may have been the first choice.
Track and field is a sport that has lost its focus on “grass roots” events in recent decades.
It is a sport that offers substantial numbers of college scholarships, but the sport has
been slow to encourage developmental meets intended for young athletes. You may find
it necessary to create events that can use the new facility. Building a significant series of
annual events will present a number of challenges, starting with local funding.
The bulk of your facilities are located at schools, The Ripken Experience, and Coastal
Carolina University. This translates into limited windows of opportunity. A high school
may be able to provide facilities only during a five or six week window in the summer.
Ripken has a crowded schedule, and the same is true at the university. City and county
facilities are somewhat easier to schedule for outside groups.
Booking policies have caused issues in the past. Until very recently it has been possible
for local organizers to block out schedules well in advance and not suffer penalties for
cancellations. This policy has been revised, and it will be important to see if the
modifications lead to more events producing visitors.
The school district, county and city will need to work more closely together on
scheduling issues. A single point of contact would be desirable.

    It should be possible to host a very large event some day for little to no rental cost due
    to the large number of visitors. At a minimum some sort of formula could be developed
    that charges a sliding scale for rentals, with lower rates to the most productive events.

Potential for new facilities

In our visits and conversations we became aware of a number of possibilities and also some
needs which should/must be met. The list that follows is not meant to be all-inclusive but
does represent what we learned during our interviews. A list of these interviews is included
as Appendix II – Interviews.

    1. Completion of the master plan for Myrtle Beach Grand Park.

        When fully complete, there will be seven softball fields, two youth baseball fields,
        and four rectangular multi-purpose fields and in a park setting. This will be an
        exceptionally attractive site, and will approach or exceed some of the complexes
        listed later in the report.

        These softball fields can be combined with those at Pepper Geddings and five of the
        small baseball fields at The Ripken Experience to host large fast-pitch softball
        tournaments. The dimensions of the youth baseball fields at Ripken permit fast pitch
        softball, and management has indicated they are ready to do so when appropriate.

    2. Addition of more rectangular fields at Socastee Recreational Park.

         There is room for several new fields and a retention pond. Building the pond will
         improve drainage, and more fields will be scheduled as quickly as they can be made
         available. There are substantial unmet local needs for more soccer fields. Please
         make note of the comments on the U.S. Soccer Academy below.

3.   North Strand Recreation Center

     The seven unimproved soccer fields to the West of the softball field could be
     converted into tournament quality fields complete with lights, scoring, etc. We
     understand the recreational leagues currently using the fields are willing to consider
     paying for lights. Perhaps some sort of private/public partnership will produce more
     tournament friendly fields without displacing local groups.

     We also understand land has been cleared for four more 300’ softball fields. If these
     are completed as tournament quality fields, they will be very useful to outside events
     and become extremely important to local users.

4. Possible U.S. Club Soccer Training Center/U.S. Soccer Academy

     In one of our meetings we learned of interest in putting a number of area resources
     behind the creation of a major soccer complex on land adjacent to the Socastee
     Recreational Park. A failed residential development abuts the park. If this site were
     obtained and converted to a ten or more field complex, the area would have enough
     fields in one place to host many competitions, including home grown events that can
     happen every year without bidding.

     A substantial number of additional fields in this area (perhaps as many as twenty)
     would put you in a leadership position in soccer, a sport where little is happening due
     to a lack of fields in complexes.

5. The Offense/Defense Camps

     We met with ownership. They are planning to develop a complex to better suit their
     needs. This facility would include an office complex for their rapidly expanding
     network of football camps (they have expanded to 50 camps across the country for
     2009) along with camp facilities and warehousing for their merchandising business.
     Although they do not have need for multiple fields, it could be that co-locating with

       another project might make sense. We believe they will be moving ahead with their
       own plans in the near future, so some sort of co-location agreement may not be
       possible in their time frame.

   6. Coastal Carolina University

       There is interest in moving some athletic facilities to make room for more
       classrooms and student housing. We are under the impression the university is
       interested in opportunities that could benefit their programs and those of the
       community and/or county. A number of discussions and much speculation have
       accompanied discussion regarding a new and larger arena, among other possibilities.
       We can only observe that combining university uses with those of the community
       could make very good sense.

       The Socastee Recreational Park is reasonably close to campus, and is one of many
       sites that would appear to make sense for athletic fields.

It is not our purpose to endorse any one of these possibilities. We simply wish to make note
that most of the people we talked with agree on the need for new facility development. If
two or more of the parties agree, a jointly developed project could equal more than what
might be accomplished separately.

If you had a twenty field soccer complex where the fields would be suitable for other sports
needing rectangular fields, we would expect to see a dramatic increase in visitor spending. A
complex like this could easily accommodate 100 team events or more. Several 100 team
tournaments, a not unreasonable expectation considering the soccer market and the strength
of the destination, could add more than $5 million a year in spending.

We will now turn our attention to the issues involved with event acquisition and
development. A great deal has been learned about what is needed for an area to be
successful in the sports event travel industry. Much has been learned locally, too. The area is

hosting events that are controlled by local groups and by national organizations. Our
purpose is to address the issues crucial to success in a changing, competitive industry.


Every community wants to obtain no less than their share of the business. The ways in
which this is accomplished vary from market to market, but there are two major routes to
follow with a number of variations. What is important to keep in mind is success is not
dependent upon the style of organization as much as it is on professionalism, a united
community approach, sufficient resources, facilities appropriate to the objectives,
recognition that the industry requires more input locally than is the case with conventions
and meetings, and there is a network of cities that will share information through the
National Association of Sports Commissions.

The two major types of organizations are sports commissions and convention and visitors
bureaus. Generally, but not always, market size has a good deal to do with the choice. Most
of the major or larger markets are served by a sports commission. Dallas, Philadelphia, and
Detroit are three examples of exceptions: all three are served by the convention and visitors
bureau through dedicated staff or a separate department within the bureau. At the same
time, smaller markets that might be expected to access the market through their convention
and visitors bureau have decided a sports commission works best for them. This usually
occurs after years of success. Augusta, Georgia is a good example of a smaller market sports

A few cities are represented by the chamber of commerce, but this is unusual. As chambers
have spun off convention and visitors bureaus and maintained their focus on job creation
and retention, the sports event market falls naturally under the bureau. Myrtle Beach is not
alone in having a vertically organized approach where the bureau remains part of the
chamber and sports are served through that division, or by the chamber itself. Examples
include Tulsa, Kingsport, Tennessee and Seattle.

Sports commissions

As the name implies, the National Association of Sports Commissions was founded in 1992
to serve the special needs of sports commissions. At the time of its founding, the intent was
to restrict membership to sports commissions or those convention and visitors bureaus that
were directly involved in producing sports events.

Sports commissions are staffed by experienced industry professionals able to analyze
opportunities, identify and recruit support within the community, prepare and present the
bids, and produce the event from start to finish. Characteristically, they also develop events
ranging from monthly luncheons to annual dinners and fund raisers. In the last decade they
have become increasingly involved in developing their own annual tournaments and events.
Doing so reduces the number of events requiring bids, and puts the commission in control
of every aspect of the event. In most cases, commissions partner with other entities to
develop and present the events.

Commissions are found in markets where private sector support can be developed. Usually,
sports commissions are independent, privately funded not-for-profit corporations. Most do
receive a portion of their funding from the bed tax through the convention and visitors
bureau. Others receive a portion of their funding from the county or city where they are
located. The bulk of the funding, however, comes from the private sector and the activities
of the commission. It should be evident that sports commissions are not the best route for

Convention and visitors bureaus

Bureaus treat sports as a market segment. The bulk of their business comes from meetings,
conventions, and tourism. Sports events can present challenges to a bureau. Our industry
has a saying that “the work starts when they say yes!” This is somewhat different than
meetings, conventions, and tourism. Meeting planners and the accommodations and
convention center take over and service meetings and conventions, and tourists do not
require the direct participation of bureau staff beyond destination information.

Sports events require a great deal of on-going work after the sale is made. It is exceptionally
important for the bureau to recognize the importance of a careful analysis of what will be
required by each event before the bid is made. An excellent way to accomplish this is to
identify and recruit the local knowledge and assistance the event will ultimately require as
part of this analysis. Most bureaus do not have the expertise or desire to produce the events.

There is a special cost to bureaus when producing room nights from sports events. This cost
comes from the realization that a number of knowledgeable people must become involved if
the event is to be successful. Another way of saying this is to recognize you must meet the
event owner half way: you cannot get the room nights and visitor spending without making a
commitment to event production, somehow. Most event owners have now learned their
biggest value to the host community comes from room nights. This has not been their
primary focus. They always knew their events needed accommodations but did not, until
recently, learn the value placed upon these rooms. One of the consequences of this has been
the recognition by convention and visitors that there is more to sports events than the sale.

The appeal of the sports event segment

Why has the industry grown from about 30 markets in 1989 to more than 400 in 2009? The
answer is economic impact. Traveling teams and individuals produce economic impact
through their spending at hotels, restaurants, stores, car rental companies, and attractions.
Their spending produces new dollars in the market: the definition of economic impact.

The other compelling aspect of the segment is its relative resistance to economic downturns.
These events need to take place. A very large segment of participation based events is age
group competition. We have seen this resistance to downturns in travel twice in recent years.
The first was after 9/11. Overall, there was a significant drop-off in business and leisure
travel. In our segment, the number of events grew and travelers followed suit. Why? Families
always need to enjoy the benefits of vacation travel, and they learned quickly to make
tournament trips mini-vacations. We are experiencing the same dynamic in 2009: the events
are going to take place and the teams will participate. We anticipate about the same amount

of travel to events this year as last, partially because the events must take place and partially
due to much lower gasoline prices, hotel deals, restaurant specials, and plenty of bargains at
retail and attractions.

Another interesting characteristic is the preponderance of youth events. Participation in team
sports in the United States peaks between the ages of ten and twelve. Just over 70% of all
youngsters in this age range participate in one or more team sports. This percentage drops
well below 50% by age 18. So, the bulk of the events are for young people who travel with
family. Myrtle Beach is a perfect destination for these travelers.

Progressive steps in the organization

The ideal progression in terms of an organizational approach to the sports market is to
“crawl, crawl, walk, walk, and finally (and only maybe), run.” This can be translated as a
convention and visitors bureau beginning with a part-time sales effort from one person, to a
full-time person, to a two or three person staff at which time a decision could be made as to
establishment of a separate department in the bureau. It is at this point when bureaus will
generally begin to think about a sports commission. The bidding process and production of
events becomes a full-time job for two or more members of the staff, and consideration is
given to spinning off the staff and/or responsibilities to an independent sports commission.

A significant number of sports commissions have been incubated in a bureau. These are not
limited to mid-size or smaller markets. Cleveland and Columbus in Ohio were both once
part of their bureaus and are now independent sports commissions. It is important to add
that both continue to receive support from their bureaus.

In cities where both organizations exist, the commission usually takes the lead in identifying
opportunities and forming a steering committee and the bureau assists in the sale and
organizing of the hospitality portion of the work. If the bid is successful, the commission
goes on to produce the event in cooperation with its owner (or develops events on its own).

Getting started

Myrtle Beach has accomplished a good deal without a dedicated staff person, let alone a
staff. Part of the reason may be traced to the somewhat limited number of facilities and the
involvement of the city or county in various phases of development to this point. This
report has highlighted a number of changes that are happening or soon will that will increase
the number and quality of the sports facilities. With the growth of interest among event
owners in going to recognized destinations, the time is at hand to contemplate changes.

It is fortunate that sports are currently part of the job of a sales person who has come to the
market from the sports industry. He understands the market and knows many of the event
owners. This is a major advantage to a start up organization.

There is another factor at work that could move this process to the next levels: if the sales
tax increase passes in Myrtle Beach, a substantial amount of new revenue will be produced.
Some of the new revenue could be used for new facility development, among other
potentially beneficial projects.

Other factors

A significant amount of the teams coming to the county are doing so as the result of efforts
by event owners located in the area. We mentioned Big Shots as an example, but there are as
many as twenty baseball and softball events each year that are bringing smaller numbers of
visiting teams to the area. These efforts should be encouraged.

The single fastest way to increase the amount of room nights from sports is to assist local
events in growing the number of teams coming to the county. The 2009 Ripken Experience
spring training schedule almost doubled over 2008! They are also permitting teams to stay
outside their traditional “captive” room block to better accommodate the needs of teams
(most want to be on the beach). Convention and visitors bureaus have leaned that assisting
local events by handling room bookings can often produce good results!

It is very important to recognize that a larger staff will be needed to pursue the possibilities
that are out there and to produce the events once they are acquired. We believe you will need
between three and four full time employees depending upon the development of new
facilities. It is difficult to project actual needs at the moment, but all concerned need to
watch closely and plan staffing according to your potential.

The development of a senior games will require a small staff year around, and they could
work other events.

We have observed that the addition of new facilities could produce exceptional results. In
the following section we will address our conclusions to the study, provide some case
histories that could prove useful, and present a list of event owners we believe can consider
the area for one or more of their events prior to the addition of new facilities.


Myrtle Beach and Horry County have had success hosting sports events, and the more new
facilities that can come on line, the greater that success could be. Earlier in the report we
observed that whatever the current economic impact of sports events might be it could
increase without new facilities and could produce $25 million a year or more with the
addition of new facilities. We have discussed strengths and weaknesses earlier, and will not
repeat them here. It is appropriate, however, to summarize the area from the point of view
of event owners. What would/do they see when considering the area for one or more of
their events?

Here is a list of the primary issues/concerns:

    An excellent family destination
    A multitude of choices for accommodations
    The beach is a must
    The area is within reach of large numbers of teams
    How many different sites will we need to accommodate our teams?
    Will we have to limit registrations in order to complete the event on time?
    Where else can we go that offers some of the features of a stay in Myrtle Beach but
    allows us to compete on only one to three sites?
    What kinds of incentives are available to help us with costs of our event?
    What do others think about their experience in the area?
    Do they have enough volunteers?
    Who will prepare the venues each day?
    What are the peak traffic periods each day? Will these peaks impact moving from site to
    Can fields/courts be committed to us more than a year in advance?
    What new facilities will be ready before we come to town?
    Can the convention bureau handle housing?
    What will room rates be in June, July, and August?

    Will enough rooms be available at the right prices?
    Do I have to sign hotel contracts?
    Will the teams get free breakfasts?
    Can I add a room contribution to raise funds for the event?
    Who will administer that rebate program?
    Can usage be accurately tracked?
    How long will it take to collect these rebates?
    How do the facility costs compare to other cities?
    Who are the “go to” people for our event?
    Will these people have time for us as we prepare for and administer the event?

This is truly described as the “business of amateur sport.” Most of these comments indicate
some of the key issues needing resolution. We believe you rate very high as a destination and
less well as a site with everything needed for an efficient competition. The biggest reasons
relate to a relative lack of concentrated facilities, only two or three true complexes of fields
for baseball and softball, and the need to assemble volunteers to support each event.

An indoor multi-purpose building would put you in the business twelve months a year. A
single facility that would contain between eight and ten basketball courts with two or three
of the courts collegiate size could do wonders when combined with the strengths of your
package. This building could host all of the games for a basketball or volleyball tournament,
all of the mats for a martial arts event, the equipment for gymnastics, and be suitable for
cheerleading and dance competitions at rates below what must be charged for your
convention center space (especially when reservations may be needed two or more years

Projects of this kind can be found in several areas around the country. Most of these, but
not all, have some form of public/private partnership. One of the typical forms of
partnership is where land is provided along with a long term lease and the operator provides
the building.

Please refer to Appendix III – Indoor Facilities for more information. We have included
material describing the Boo Williams Sportsplex in Hampton, Virginia, McGee’s Courts 4
Sports in Mason, Ohio, and what may become the “poster child” for the industry: the
Columbus (Indiana) Athletic & Event Center. This latter project is a 140,000 square foot
building that will be constructed in downtown Columbus. The developers are contributing
$12.5 million in construction costs and the pubic sector contribution is the land and some
additional incentives.

The Columbus project is notable on another front: it is a highly tangible result of close
cooperation between the Columbus Area Visitors Center (the convention bureau) and the
City of Columbus Department of Parks and Recreation. We are familiar with this project and
the collaboration leading up to construction. Our firm consulted on the steps needed to
refine the community’s efforts to attract sports events, and this project was one of the focal
points of our discussions.

Officials in Columbus are projecting about 55 outside events a year for this project.
Although Columbus may not be a recognized tourist destination, they are able to succeed by
combining an excellent reputation as a host community with excellent facilities and a very
convenient location. Myrtle Beach should expect a better performance based upon is status
as a destination.

Sites of between 4 and 6 acres would work well for buildings like these plus parking, etc.

Other communities have found benefit in redeveloping empty “big box” retail space or
empty home improvement buildings as indoor sports facilities. These conversions could
accelerate due to availability and cost savings.

Please also note inclusion of an article concerning the Gainesville Sports Commission. There
are a number of interesting details concerning sources of funding and accomplishments,
including a reference to a possible Field of Dreams project that might result in a 16 field
baseball complex.

Please also find enclosed Appendix IV – Outdoor Complexes. We are including information
on soccer (or rectangular field) complexes in Libertyville, Illinois and Shelby County,
Tennessee and diamond complexes in Panama City Beach, Florida and Chattanooga,
Tennessee and Columbus, Georgia. Each of these complexes produces excellent results.

Sports Events magazine, in its March 2008 Sports Events Trends and Economic Impact
Study, made the point that as far as event owners are concerned, the quality and availability
of venues was regarded as the single most important factor in site selection(60%), or
important to selection (35%), with only 5% indicating the quality of venues was not
important. This could indicate why Columbus will attract large numbers of events and
visitors without a beach.

This same report went on to observe that “73 percent of CVBs and sports commissions
reported the addition, expansion, or renovation of fields and facilities in their area.
Essentially, destinations that are not developing new sports venues or making improvements
to existing ones are falling further behind.”

Earlier we demonstrated the effect of one 40 team tournament on the economy. It should be
evident that twice that many teams will produce at least twice the impact, or $800,000 in
direct spending. Many communities project spending through the use of a multiplier, and
doing so makes events like these million dollar events in terms of visitor spending.
You are hosting events that are doing just this, with the Triple Crown, United States Sports
Specialty Association tournaments and Big Shots prominent on the list. These events and
others like them contribute many millions of dollars in visitor spending. There are also a
number of spring training events held for college and high school teams and these deliver
substantial benefit as well.

We have compiled a list of event owners that have events we believe could be staged using
the facilities you have. This list is included as Appendix V – Rights Holders. Please note the
list is by organization and includes contact information.

One of the concepts discussed during our conversations was the possibility of staging senior
games competitions. The National Senior Games organization has a senior event available
for bid. It is quite possible to create and stage your own event. The best example is the
Huntsman World Senior Games, an event held every September in St. George, Utah for
senior athletes and teams. This is one of the finest examples of an event created locally that
has grown to international importance. It attracts several thousand competitors and family
and friends to Southern Utah. Competition takes place in multiple sports.

We believe an event similar to this could be held in your area. You have sufficient facilities,
and it could be held in an off peak time. If 5000 people can make their way to St. George,
Utah we think you could do better, not because there are shortcomings in Utah, but because
your location is much more favorable to success.

An event of this size and stature could produce more than $10 million in economic impact.
The projections for the St, George, Utah event far outstrips this number but that estimate
contains a very high multiplier that cannot be supported by other projection techniques.

Finally, it is accepted that more people travel with children than adults. It is also known that
more people will accompany young girls than boys. Although this argues in favor of events
that feature young girls as the competitors (fast pitch softball is a good example), it does not
mean events for seniors do not work. Seniors make up for their smaller traveling parties with
the ability to come early and stay late, travel in off peak times, and make a point of doing
other things beside compete while in your area.

We regard the Myrtle Beach area as underdeveloped as far as sports events are
concerned. With attention to your venue package and further development of your
organizational capabilities we believe you can become a leader in the sports travel

Myrtle Beach is tourism! Tourism is the engine that drives everything in the area. Further
investment in tourism makes very good sense, and investment in sports tourism supports
the segment of the travel industry that resists economic downturns.

                                     APPENDIX I

                                FACILITIES VISITED

Canal Street Recreation Center
Central Park – City of North Myrtle Beach
Cherry Grove FFA Camp
Coastal Carolina University
   • Aquatics                           •   Soccer field
   • Brooks Stadium                     •   Softball field
   • Charles L. Watson Stadium          •   Tennis
   • Kimbel Arena                       •   Track and field facility
Crabtree Memorial Gymnasium
Doug Shaw Stadium
Grand Park
H. Blue Huckabee Recreation Complex
High school district
   • Carolina Forest                   • Myrtle Beach Middle
   • Conway                                School
   • Forestbrook Middle School         • North Myrtle Beach
   • Loris                             • Socastee
   • Myrtle Beach                      • St. James
Horry County Parks Department
   • Atlantic Center
   • North Strand Recreation Center
   • Socastee Recreation Park
   • Waccamaw Park
McLean Park
Midway Park
Myrtle Beach Convention Center
Myrtle Beach Tennis Center
Ned Donkle Athletic Field Complex
North Myrtle Beach Aquatic and Fitness Center
Pepper Geddings Recreation Center
The Ripken Experience
                                  APPENDIX II


Jennifer Schaffer                     Recreation Supervisor, City of Myrtle Beach
Erik Oberhammer                       Myrtle Beach Tennis Center
Lawrence Jones                        Heritage USA
Matt Gibbons                          Athletic Director, City of North Myrtle Beach
Melinda Chappell                      North Myrtle Beach Aquatic and Tennis Center
Rick Whittier / James Dickerson       Offense/Defence Camps
Scott Rogers                          Horry County Parks and Recreation
Jeff Schneider                        Big Shots Basketball
Paul Benik                            Coastal SA Soccer
Herman Norman                         Athletic Director, Horry County Schools
Brad Dean                             Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce
Scott Schult
Danna Lilly
Roy Edmondson
Bobby Holland / Tim Deysu             The Ripken Experience




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