Chamber luncheon speaker shares impact of county’s sports tourism
Business members of the Sanibel and Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce learned about the Lee County Sports Development office during its recent monthly luncheon.
Guest speaker and Executive Director Jeff Mielke explained on Sept. 11 that the entity was created in 2003 to meet the growing demand for a dedicated sports development team for the county.
“We are responsible for bringing sporting events to fill facilities, which brings tourism,” he said. “As one of the states’ 28 regional sports commissions, we perform a number of important community functions.”
A partner with the Lee County Visitor and Convention Bureau, Lee County Sports Development uses sports as a vehicle to diversify the county’s tourism industry. It solicits state, regional, national and international sporting events, thus creating an increase in economic impact from sports tourism.
Last year, the office made a direct economic impact of nearly $66 million through 144 events. There were a reported 150,670 hotel room nights sold and 90,000 spectators.
There is a diversification in the types of sports, from youth bowling tournaments and figure skating competitions, to professional baseball. The warm weather and an international airport aid in attracting sporting events, but Mielke said it is mostly about the facilities.
“Facilities make the difference when soliciting for events,” he said, crediting customer service as the number one reason for the agency’s success. “Our facilities are county owned and operated by the Lee County Parks and Recreation Department, which gives us an advantage for a better economic impact.”
Sundial Beach Resort & Spa hosted the business luncheon.
The sponsor was the Sanibel-Captiva Lions Club.
“We appreciate the support of our members, luncheon host and sponsor,” chamber President John Lai said. “We also appreciate Jeff Mielke taking his time to be our guest speaker. He presented interesting facts and figures on our county’s sports tourism industry.”
The luncheons are held on the second Tuesday of each month for members and their guests.