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Athletes want new challenges, and spectators are eager to get off the couch and join the excitement that comes with travel and live athletic competitions. According to the World Tourism Organization, sports tourism is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the tourism industry, and the U.S. sports tourism industry, which in 2023 is valued at $50 billion, is forecasted to grow to nearly $185 billion over the next decade. For sports event planners, the challenge is to find a location that has the infrastructure to support the event and amenities that offer athletes and spectators an exceptional experience that will bring them back, with their friends, year after year.
Coordinating a sporting event requires more than locating adequate fields, arenas, or race routes. The event planner needs to consider lodging, dining, and transportation. Are they convenient and affordable? What nearby attractions will cater to the interests of athletes and attendees? What support can the sports event planner expect from the community, local officials, and the region’s CVB?
Whether you’re planning an event as a corporate promotional tool, a charity fundraiser, or an opportunity for athletes to network with others and grow in their sport, location is key to developing an event. Here we outline five important considerations in choosing a location and suggest how the Lake George Area is uniquely suited to host sporting events.
NYS Public High School Athletic Association State Championships/NYSPHSAA
Of course, the size and appropriateness of a venue for your planned event is the primary consideration, and you may quickly eliminate from your list venues that are too small, too large, or lack essential elements needed for your sports event. A large event spread over disparate locations, with competitions divided among multiple ballparks or indoor arenas, loses its cohesiveness; A road race, on foot or bike, isn’t aesthetically satisfying or safe when run alongside heavy urban traffic. A regatta or mountain bike event will require natural venues that are convenient, have adequate parking, and have space for registration booths and concession stands.
After narrowing down your list of possible locations, do a walk-through of a proposed site with the needs of athletes, spectators, and your team of staff and volunteers in mind. Make safety, convenience, and comfort your primary concerns.
Does the venue have adequate locker rooms (or space for a changing tent), restrooms, and vendor space? How quickly can spectators purchase a drink or use the restrooms and return to their seats? Is there an AV system? How will the weather affect the event? (For snow-dependent sports, does the venue have adequate snowmaking equipment?) Is there a space in or near the venue for pre-event and post-event social activities and award ceremonies? Is the venue mobility accessible? When scouting a location for an inaugural event, be sure to choose a venue that gives your event room to grow.
The Lake George Area offers indoor and outdoor sports facilities that can accommodate everything from small corporate golf tournaments to large international sporting competitions. Since the late 19th Century, the natural beauty of Lake George and the Adirondack Mountains has drawn visitors to enjoy its summer vistas, fall foliage, and winter landscapes. Its ski areas, lakes and rivers, mountain trails, bike paths, and indoor sports arenas have hosted State championship basketball tournaments, Special Olympic competitions, beach volleyball tournaments, sailboat races, 5K, 10K, and marathon road races, rugged-terrain adventure events, and triathlons.
Events booked in the Lake George Area receive strong support and promotion from area businesses and the regional CVB. Local officials, always looking to bring new attractions to the area, embrace and will help smooth the way for sports events in their towns. Although the area hosts tens of thousands of visitors each year, guests enjoy the small-town hospitality and enthusiasm found in the local communities.
Lakeview room/Courtyard by Marriott Lake George
The perfect venue becomes not so perfect if athletes and spectators cannot find affordable lodging nearby. In large and mid-size cities, hotels close to a major sports venue are often beyond the budget of event participants even if you reserve a discounted block of rooms. Moving out to the suburbs or exurbs may bring down room rates, but enthusiasm for the event and the feeling of camaraderie that comes from the shared experience dissipates as participants must travel back to rooms outside of the city. If your event brings you to remote locations, lodging may be limited to bed and breakfasts or campgrounds.
Ideally, a hotel near the venue can serve as the event headquarters where competitors can register, pick up swag packages, and socialize with other athletes. For events spread over several days, spectators will be more likely to stay through the duration if they can secure comfortable and convenient lodging at a discounted rate. It’s an added plus if the lodging can accommodate all athletes and spectators, providing a space for participants to mingle in an atmosphere of conviviality.
The Lake George Area has a broad range of lodging options including recognized brand hotels, luxury and lakefront resorts, and lodges with a distinctive Adirondack flavor. Most hotels are near the area’s sports venues, many within walking distance. The professionals at the Lake George Regional CVB have first-hand knowledge of the region’s accommodations and are uniquely qualified to assist sports event planners with identifying and securing the perfect lodging to fit budget, location, and capacity needs.
Lake George Steamboat Company cruise/Lake George Examiner
While the sports event is the main attraction, participants will have a much fuller experience if the event is set in a region that offers places to explore, a variety of dining options, and fun activities that align with participants’ interests. You know the athletes and spectators that will be drawn to your event. They are your market. You may even have created marketing personas. When considering locations, look at the surrounding area. Does it offer activities and events that align with your target market?
The athletes, spectators, and their families will bring with them a diversity of interests — shopping, fine dining, arts and theatre, history, and outdoor adventure. Recognize that many will bring children and want kid-friendly things to do. When scouting a location, consider the surrounding community and what leisure activities it offers. An appealing location that offers a wide range of activities will attract people to your event, and they will leave with positive feelings and look forward to returning.
The lakes and mountains of the Lake George Area attract tens of thousands of visitors each year, and the region has a thriving tourism industry with exceptional recreation and entertainment opportunities. Outdoor enthusiasts can relish the unparalleled beauty of the Adirondacks while enjoying the many outdoor activities the region offers including hiking, skiing, and boating. The Factory Outlets of Lake George are sure to please bargain shoppers and children will enjoy the numerous arcades, miniature golf courses, beaches, and playgrounds.
When sports events are located in the Lake George Area, participants have opportunities to enjoy concurrently running local events such as winter carnivals and ice festivals, rodeos, Oktoberfest and craft beverage festivals, music festivals, arts and crafts shows, and farmers markets, to name a few.
While some athletes may travel to the ends of the Earth to compete, for most, practicality demands an event within a reasonable distance from home. The same goes for spectators. Both need access to highways or public transportation if they are to travel to an event. For this reason, you have a better chance of successfully attracting competitors and spectators if your event is located near population hubs with quick access to the Interstate Highway System, airports, and train routes.
Lake George is just a few hours’ drive from the major metropolitan areas of the Northeast United States and Eastern Canada making it a viable trip for the millions of people who populate these regions. The area is served by Albany International Airport and I87, the Adirondack Northway, makes for easy access to Lake George Area communities. Additionally, Amtrak’s Ethan Allen Express and Adirondack routes carry travelers through the region from cities along the Eastern Seaboard.
Lake George Trolley/Lake George Examiner
A final consideration is transportation to and from participants’ lodging and the fields or arenas where the event is held. While reserving rooms at a hotel within walking distance of the sports venue is ideal, it isn’t always possible. Most athletes and spectators will arrive in their own vehicles and need an easy route to drive themselves to the event. If traffic is an issue, or the size of your event will create traffic slowdowns, a city bus or trolley system can be critical to mitigate these problems. Also, investigate the area’s taxi and other ride-hailing services. You want to ensure your participants aren’t stuck in traffic or lost somewhere in the city and missing your event.
The Lake George Area boasts more than 7,000 guest rooms and the region’s sports venues are close by. The Lake George Regional CVB regularly assists sports event planners in managing the logistics of transporting people and will work with local officials, the Greater Glens Falls Transit, which operates the Lake George Trolley, and other transportation providers to ensure things run smoothly getting to and from your event.
To learn more about planning a sports event in the Lake George Area and how the Lake George Regional CVB’s services can streamline the process, visit the LGCVB website and submit an inquiry at Contact the LGRCVB.
The LGRCVB is a division of the Lake George Regional Chamber of Commerce & CVB and works as an extension of the Warren County Tourism Department. While the Tourism Department markets the Lake George Area to the leisure consumer tourism market, the mission of the LGRCVB is to bring year-round, weather-proof group business to Warren County in the form of meetings, conventions, reunions, sports events, weddings, and more. Learn more at meetlakegeorge.com. Connect with the Lake George Area on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and visitlakegeorge.com.
Blog Post by Gillian Burdette