How sports tourism boosts Sioux Falls’ economy

An exact number can’t be placed on the hundr of sports events that take place in the city, but through the work of the Sioux Falls Convention Visitors Bureau, some measurements can be offered.

In 2016, the CVB worked with 61 sports events that generated more than $50 million in estimated economic impact. One youth amateur player staying overnight in Sioux Falls generates $454 a day with spending on lodging, transportation, food and beverage, retail, recreation and taxes.

When the calculation changes to one person coming for a collegiate championship, that number jumps to $657. Add a flight into Sioux Falls, and the number jumps to $777.

Two of the larger events that took place in 2016 were the NCAA Division II Men’s Basketball Championships and USA Softball Girls’ Class A 14U Fast Pitch National Championship. The NCAA event brought in an estimated 10,000 people and an economic impact of over $5.6 million, while reaching 1.15 million people airing on CBS on a Saturday afternoon during March Madness.

The softball event brought in an estimated 5,250 people and economic impact of more than $7.9 million.

In 2014, the city was awarded a 2016 NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Regional as a part of March Madness. The bid was submitted by the Sioux Falls Sports Authority and was awarded in large part due to the reputation and relationship built over several years with the Summit League’s commissioner.

In attendance and economic impact, the event was smaller in scale; but in notoriety, it was perhaps the most prestigious sports event the city had ever hosted.  

When comparing the impact of youth sports to collegiate sports, there are some differences. Youth sports such as fastpitch softball typically bring in families for every player on each team, and those families stay for a minimum of three days or more. Fan attendance for these events are typically smaller in nature, and admission fees are nominal.

In contrast, collegiate sports draw a much larger fan attendance, higher ticket and venue revenue and earned media value that you can’t buy.  

This year, the largest event the city has ever hosted from an attendance, room nights and economic impact perspective took place. The U.S. Youth Soccer Midwest Region II Championships brought in 15,000 people, including 5,000 athletes and coaches and an estimated impact of more than $17.5 million.

Premier events such as the Summit League Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships attracted more than 65,000 people (counted through ticket sales), with the estimated economic impact coming in at over $7.5 million. And that doesn’t account for the media value of two games airing on ESPN and ESPNU.

Throughout the year, games played by the two local Division II universities, the two Division I universities located 45 minutes north and south, and semi-professional sports teams provide an on-going stimulus to the economy from visiting players, families, and fans.

Next year, the city will continue its run of successful events and welcome some that are new, including the NCAA DII Men’s and Women’s Basketball Elite Eight, NCAA Division I Men’s Hockey Regional and the Sanford International presented by Cambria, a PGA TOUR Champions event.

The CVB has been prospecting and pursuing sports events to be held in Sioux Falls for more than 30 years, but just a few years ago realized an opportunity to commission the phrase “Road to Sioux Falls” to further position the city as a leisure sports destination.

Marketing campaigns encourage visitors to come to Sioux Falls as a part of a weekend trip or a family vacation.

When sports events come to Sioux Falls, residents benefit, more jobs are created, businesses flourish and sales tax increases. Hundr of volunteers commit their time and energy to make these events possible.

And with all of us working together, the sports market continues to thrive.

Note: Economic impact calculations were supplied by Destinations International’s Sports Impact Calculator V.3.0.

Krista Orsack

Director of Marketing

Sioux Falls Convention Visitors Bureau

605.373.2036 |