Virginia Beach Sports Marketing team set out to attract major national events for the new Sports Center and they have a slam dunk. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) announced Wednesday, Oct. 14, that Norfolk State University (NSU) and the City of Virginia Beach have been selected to host the Men’s and Women’s Indoor Track and Field Championships four years in a row:
2023 Division II Championships
2024 Division III Championships
2025 Division I Championships
2026 Division II Championships
This will mark the first time NSU will serve as the host institution for an NCAA Championship event and the first time a Historically Black College or University (HBCU) will host an NCAA Division I national championship track event.
Virginia Beach has had a robust sports tourism business for years – everything from wrestling and basketball tournaments to cheerleading and Taekwondo – and the City can now add major track and field events to the list.
More than 100,000 hotel rooms are booked annually by people attending sports events hosted in Virginia Beach, primarily at the Convention Center.
The Convention Center, however, wasn’t built to accommodate sporting events. So, in 2016, the City hired a firm to review the City’s sports marketing initiatives and make recommendations for leveraging this booming market.
The consultants suggested the City build and operate a multi-sport recreational facility, and, with their recommended configuration, estimated that the City should be able to generate about 36 additional events per year with an economic impact of approximately $10 million. A facility built specifically for sports could also increase hotel occupancies by 20 percent or more and free up the convention center to schedule the meetings, conventions and conferences it was designed to host.
City Council directed staff to explore the opportunity and make a recommendation about the location, size, type and overall programming for an indoor sports facility to attract out-of-market tournament business that residents could also use (outside of tournament bookings) for sporting activities like league play. The ultimate goal was to create an economic asset for tourism growth that also enhances the quality of life for Virginia Beach residents.
The sports center was recently completed after nearly four years of work that included reviewing similar facilities in other cities, consulting with stakeholders, getting feedback from residents, hiring a design/build team and the construction.
Now, Virginia Beach is well on its way to increasing sports tourism and moving toward becoming a year-round destination since many of these sporting events take place during the fall, winter and spring. . Building the number of visitors who come during the shoulder-seasons brings more business activity and new revenue. That’s attractive because Virginia Beach taxpayers don’t pay to educate these visitors or police their neighborhoods, yet they contribute to the City’s tax base. They come to town for a short while, spend money, then leave and their spending offsets taxes paid by Virginia Beach residents. Residents will be able to enjoy the facility through league play and as spectators.
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