The City of Clearwater Parks & Recreation Department and Leon County Parks and Recreation earned the Second Annual Excellence in Sports Tourism Awards, presented by the Florida Sports Foundation (FSF), and awarded Thursday at the Florida Recreation and Parks Association (FRPA) Annual Conference in Orlando.
The awards, broken into Mid-Large Sport Market and Small Sport Market Categories, recognize the unparalleled contributions of Florida’s county and municipal Parks & Recreation Departments to Sport Tourism. County and municipal governments provide the maintenance and infrastructure to support the numerous sporting and recreational activities occurring annually throughout the state of Florida. Recipients were nominated by Florida’s Regional Sports Commissions, defined as the Large Sport Market and the Small Market.
“These two awardees represent two vastly different areas of the state, yet they both used their abundances of local resources to contribute to Florida’s $44 billion sports industry,” said FSF President, John Webb. “This award program was developed, in partnership with the FRPA, to recognize such creative contributions to the Sport Tourism effort within their community. “
The Large Sport Market category awardee, the City of Clearwater Parks and Recreation Department, , nominated by the St. Petersburg/Clearwater Sports Commission, is a first-rate sports tourism destination and a great place to visit. Besides a sports resume that includes the Philadelphia Phillies Spring Training Baseball site, Bright House Field and its $138 million economic impact, Clearwater hosted $25 million economic impact in amateur athletic events. Among those are FSF events, the 2014 SSG Track and Field Championships and the 2015-2016 Florida Senior Games.
“The City of Clearwater is honored to have received this statewide recognition,” said George Cretekos, Mayor of Clearwater. “The city’s efforts will continue to promote Pinellas County and the entire Tampa Bay area as a sports tourism destination, and its commitment to athletics enhances the healthy lifestyle of area residents.”
The Small Sport Market award winner is Leon County Parks and Recreation, nominated by Visit Tallahassee / Tallahassee Sports Council. With the development of the Apalachee Regional Park, which has become a national sports destination, Leon County successfully completed a “Landfill to Park Conversion” program and now attracts local, state and national cross country events.
Since opening in September 2012, Apalachee Regional Park averaged $3 million economic impact annually to the area with cross country events such as the Florida High School Athletic Association Cross Country Championships, The Florida State University Invitational Championships and NCAA South Regional Championships.
“Leon County has created a world class running facility that allows residents and visitors to enjoy the stunning beauty of the natural environment and rich array of other recreational activities,” said Brian Hickey, Director of Sports, Visit Tallahassee. “Apalachee Regional Park is also a popular spot for joggers, mountain bike enthusiasts and hikers and its course for competitive cross country running is one of the finest in the country.”
Upcoming events in Clearwater and Leon County include the Clearwater Super Boat National Championship & Festival (September 25-27), the 2015 Florida Senior Games (December 5-13) and the 2016 Philadelphia Phillies Spring Training season (March, 2016) and 2015 FSU Cross Country Invitational (October 2-3), 2015 Atlantic Coast Conference Cross Country Championships (October 30), 2015 and 2016 FHSAA Cross Country Championships and 2016 NCAA South Regional Cross Country Championships.