SPECIAL TO THE TIMES
Coming off the USA Rugby Women’s Collegiate Fall Championship and the US Club Soccer’s showcase last month, the City of Palm Coast is predicting a sunny outlook for sports tournaments and sports-related tourism in 2015.
The city has developed top-notch athletic fields and places a strong focus on attracting sports tournaments to the Indian Trails Sports Complex as part of its Prosperity 2021 strategic economic development plan. The city is partnering with Flagler Schools, the Flagler County Tourist Development Council and local sports organizations on the initiative.
More jobs, economic growth
Two new fields opened this fall at Indian Trails, bringing the total number to 10 fields for soccer, lacrosse, flag football and rugby. The increased size of the complex provides greater opportunities for Palm Coast to attract regional and national sports events.
“Sports events have become a cornerstone of the city’s economic development efforts,” said Palm Coast Administration Coordinator Beau Falgout. “These tournaments attract hundreds of visitors from outside our community who come here and boost business for area hotels, restaurants, gas stations and retail stores. That equates to more jobs, greater profitability and economic growth.”
Because of the sports tournaments, Palm Coast’s hotels sometimes fill up – making it difficult for teams to find lodging within the county.
“Bringing in more and more visitors is a great thing for us, and providing enough hotel space is one challenge we must face as Palm Coast’s popularity grows as a sports tournament destination,” Falgout said. “This is particularly true for the big regional and national tournaments that have a major impact on our local economy.”
Last month Palm Coast hosted its first collegiate tournament and first national championship with the women’s rugby tournament. From Feb. 27-March 1, ITSC will feature the United States Quidditch South Regional Tournament with teams from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee. Already, the city has booked a dozen sports tournaments at Indian Trails Sports Complex in 2015.
Last week’s soccer showcase for top U-15, U-16 and U-17 National Premier Leagues (NPL) girls teams from all over the country, including Florida, Mississippi, Oregon, Texas, Illinois and several states in the Northeast, rang in the new year in Palm Coast. The host club for the event was the locally based PDA Florida, which had teams participating in all three age groups. More than 100 college coaches committed to attend to see college prospects.