By Rachael Rees
From a soccer tournament and shooting matches to horse shows and golf tournaments, summer sporting events in Central Oregon continue to grow and boost the region’s tourism economy.
“From what I have heard, all of the staple events hit record numbers this year as far as teams and participation,” Kevney Dugan, sales and sports development director for the city’s tourism promotion agency, Visit Bend, wrote in an email. “Things are amazing both on the leisure side and the event side of tourism.”
While specific numbers weren’t available, officials and event coordinators agreed that the number of summer sports events and the numbers of participants are on the rise. According to data from Visit Bend, lodging taxes in June, the most recent available, generated around $589,000 in Bend, a 32 percent increase over June 2013. However, it also marked the first month of transient-room-tax collections in Bend at 10 percent, a 1 percent increase. For the fiscal year, which ended June 30, lodging-tax collections equaled about $4.6 million, a 20 percent increase over 2013 and a historical high.
With more than 4,000 participants, the Pacific Crest Sports Weekend, which takes place in June, has become the single largest sporting event in Central Oregon, with expected economic impacts in excess of $3 million annually, said Alana Hughson, president and CEO of the Central Oregon Visitors Association.
“Sports tourism development for Central Oregon will continue to be a successful vehicle for the region and an area of natural development,” she wrote in an email.
The fifth annual Bend Premier Cup youth soccer tournament in early August featured 183 teams from Oregon and five other Western states.
In the middle of the month, more than 300 people from across the country participated in the Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Invitational, a shooting competition held east of Bend, said Mike Faw, media relations manager for event sponsor Crimson Trace — a Wilsonville company that makes laser gun sights and grips.
The event, in its third year, drew at least 30 more competitors than in 2013, Faw said, and additional spectators.
“I heard a lot of comments about food, beer and even side trips to places like the High Desert Museum,” he said. “(Competitors) spend more than just time at the range … A large number of participants bring their families and make it a summer vacation.”
Sunriver Resort has experienced a 40 percent increase in golf package revenues over last year, said Josh Willis, the resort’s director of golf operations.
New events such as the Oregon Lacrosse Classic and Oregon Senior Games added to the mix this year, said Dugan of Visit Bend. The Oregon Senior Games attracted more than 500 athletes and generated about $477,000 in total spending from outside of Deschutes County, according to an economic impact survey.
Mt. Bachelor’s Downhill Bike Park, open for the summer this year, boosted the ski area’s summer visitor numbers, said Dave Rathbun, president and general manager.
“It’s been a huge hit,” Rathbun said. “It’s serving a type of bike recreation that we didn’t offer until we were able to construct the downhill park here.”