Local economies eye youth sports for economic boost

Youth sports continue to grow in popularity and are now a multi-billion-dollar industry.

ROUND ROCK, TEXAS - Youth sports continue to grow in popularity and are now a multi-billion dollar industry.

Small towns across the country are looking to capitalize, especially right here in Central Texas.

These local economies come from city councils and city leaders voting yes to squeeze as many state-of-the-art fields, rinks and courts into a single area to draw in tournaments, youth athletes and their parents, creating a flow of money along the way.

Think of the iconic movie line, "If you build it, he will come."

In "Field of Dreams," that meant a simple baseball diamond in a cornfield. But across America today, communities are building massive sports complexes with the hope that teams will come to them.

The Zucconis of Kensington, Maryland, are your typical sports family. Their weekends are spent shuttling their young athletes to soccer and lacrosse games, and that often means driving hours away from home.

Sixth-grader Anna not only loves lacrosse, she loves hitting the road.

"I like the games and hanging out with my team and the hotels are always really fun, the activities outside the hotels," she said.

Youth sports in the U.S. is now a $15 billion a year business, and it's growing every year. Travel and sports teams are driving that explosion, and all types of cities -- no matter the size -- are profiting.

"Smaller towns, especially, are really cashing in,” said Round Rock Mayor Craig Morgan. “They have the land and so they build multiple fields and that is what tournament organizers are looking for.”

You don't have to look very far here in Texas to find the proof.

"It's new money that would never come in if we didn't have these visitors coming in," said Morgan.

Morgan has seen this 65-acre, $27 million multipurpose complex become a key reason his city has become labeled "The Sports Capital of Texas."

"When people come in, they spend money at our restaurants, our hotels, our stores, and then they leave and there's very minimal impact on our services," said Morgan.

This facility is built for 10 total fields but can be reconfigured and painted differently. It can handle up to 50 fields for many different sports.

"When I played back in the day, there was three sports,” said Morgan. “Nowadays, there is just a number of sports and this complex can handle almost any sport that you have."

And for families who come from far distances to get here, part of the fun is the journey.

While Round Rock is labeled the "Sports Capital of Texas," Austin is jumping in on this sports trend in a different way.

Minor league soccer will officially return to Austin in 2019, as the team will play in a new 5,000-seat stadium at Circuit of Americas, likely bringing with it many soccer tournaments and plenty of traveling fans as well.

© 2018 KVUE-TV


JOIN THE CONVERSATION

To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment