Baton Rouge city leaders expect sports tourism boom in 2019

Sports Tourism could boost Baton Rouge economy in 2019

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - City leaders expect new developments and returning sporting events to contribute to a boom in sports tourism during 2019.

Baton Rouge will host the US Soccer regional youth championships in June, a massive tournament returning to BREC’s Burbank Park that is worth about $20 million to the area.

Other events include:

  • The Louisiana Marathon, January 18-20
  • US Express Track Club’s Louisiana Youth Indoor Track & Field Classic, February 22-23
  • USTA Cajun Classic Wheelchair Tennis 30th Tournament, March 16-24
  • Marucci World Series Championships, July 24-28
  • Youth Basketball of America’s Winter Nationals competition, December 2019

“Some of the biggest weekends for restaurants, hotels, and retail are when we have these groups in town,” Visit Baton Rouge president and CEO Paul Arrigo said. “You go to the mall and see kids running around with baseball uniforms or soccer gear.”

The city will also benefit from developments like Topgolf, which will attract tourists from across the region. In addition, city leaders expect heightened enthusiasm about LSU and Southern football to bring hundreds of thousands of college football fans to the parish in 2019.

“It brings people from elsewhere that spend their money here,” Arrigo said. “They’re not utilizing our (public) services, either. They don’t put a burden on what we have here in the city... that can save tax dollars.”

Arrigo said local hospitality sets Baton Rouge apart, complimenting the work BREC and SportsBR have done to lobby on behalf of the city.

“We under-promise and over-deliver,” he said. “There’s an opportunity for some of these young competitors to look at Baton Rouge for college or work."

BREC communications director Cheryl Michelet said the city employs more than 1,000 workers to handle these sporting events, adding that parks account for more than $1.6 billion in economic activity across Louisiana.

Because the city turns a larger profit during heavy tourism years, local organizations like BREC do not have to rely as heavily on tax dollars to fund their operations.

“I’ve always felt Baton Rouge has an inferiority complex, and the more great things we have the more we realize we really are a great place to be,” Michelet said. “We’re a good place for families and the more that we can offer to keep families here and attract young professionals, we can make Baton Rouge the city we want it to be.”

Copyright 2019 WAFB. All rights reserved.