Tim Schneider runs a 5K race every year with his children. And every year he hangs up the running bibs and photos in his garage, a reminder of every destination his family visited.
He joked with a crowd of more than 100 people Thursday at Resorts Hotel and Casino during the New Jersey Conference on Tourism and said families all over the world are willing to spend money on sporting events and for sports tourism.
Schneider, president and CEO of Schneider Publishing, which publishes Sports Travel Magazine, believes that Atlantic City can become one of those destinations.
“There is an amazing array of activities that use the structures that are already in place here, including the beach and the Boardwalk,” Schneider said.
The sports travel industry can be a significant one for many cities.
According to the Longwoods International Travel U.S. Survey, sports travel generates 97.7 million booked nights per year.
The study found that $200 billion was spent on sports travel in 2015.
James Wood, chief executive officer of Meet AC, said Atlantic City can host these events with sites including Boardwalk Hall, Bader Field and the beach itself.
“We have some great venues. We don’t have everything for all events but we have an awful lot of terrific events available,” said Wood.
Wood said the move to develop more sporting-event relationships can start with the Teams ’16 convention in September.
The event, which will take place Sept. 26 to 29, hosts 400 to 500 sporting-event organizers as they network with more than 500 city representatives to pursue business. Attendees include CEOs, event managers from sports organizations and representatives from convention bureaus and sports commissions.
“It’s really about meeting with different sporting events and developing relationships and figuring out if we have the right venues for the city to host them. If there is something compatible, we’ll work on the relationship and move forward,” Wood said.
And bringing in these new events, according to Schneider, will bring tourism into the city as well as significant economic impact for local business owners.
According to a study from Visa Inc., once people are in a destination city, 21 percent of their traveling budgets are spent on accommodations, 24 percent is spent on dining and 30 percent is spent on retail.
Schneider said this type of business can also lead to new construction of properties.
“What we see is a cycle that occurs when a local destination begins marketing itself as sports friendly, and that cycle will oftentimes result in venues,” Schneider said.
Wood believes that Atlantic City should look at pre-existing sites to capitalize on.
“We will target those events that make sense for assets that our city has to offer. We can’t go after football events because we don’t have the stadium, but we know who we are,” Wood said.
Wood looks forward to the opportunity to develop more travel into the city.
“Our strategy is to continue to grow our sporting business here,” he said.