These three priorities converged in a big way last Friday as we announced the official launch of Sports Minneapolis and the fact that we secured two new USA Volleyball events for the community for 2017. To explain why we are sharpening our focus on sports we simply need to note that sports tourism represents a $9 billion economic impact nationally. And for Minneapolis, 35% of our future hotel bookings were sports related in 2014.
As the brand indicates, Sports Minneapolis is powered by Meet Minneapolis. This alignment is strategic in that Sports Minneapolis can focus on the unique needs of sporting event rights holders and other organizers while not having to duplicate the back of the house administrative functions.
Sports Minneapolis has directly impacted our overall sales efforts, and that’s demonstrated in the numerous successes Minneapolis has achieved in attracting amateur and professional sporting events, and sporting events are the number one reason leisure visitors come to Minneapolis.
We have clearly been able to increase the local awareness of Meet Minneapolis through forming Sports Minneapolis, with all of the events we've partnered on through serving on various local organizing committees and our direct sales efforts. Events like USA Volleyball's Girls' Junior Nationals that filled our city in the summer of 2014 and the USA Racquetball US OPEN event that just wrapped up at Target Center's Life Time Fitness and several of their other metro facilities are two that Sports Minneapolis directly influenced.
We have also been a key partner in securing and planning mega-events including the Super Bowl and the Final Four. And Sports Minneapolis played a key role in attracting the 2015 U.S. Paralympics Track & Field Championships & Gateway to Gold Program. There were a number of great stories of physically challenged athletes who were able to compete and develop new relationships, and through that event, the awareness of Sports Minneapolis, powered by Meet Minneapolis has increased.
And finally, launching a separate sports marketing initiative is not just a check the box on a stated goal. Instead, we have recognized the value of sport events. They are more recession proof than other events, they often occur during need occupancy periods and with events like USA Volleyball, athletes bring friends and family members and are likely to extend their stays and spend more money.
So as Rob Moor wraps up his two-year stint as Meet Minneapolis board chair, we can thank him for his forward thinking in helping to establish this vision that has come to fruition. There is no doubt that our community will benefit from these enhanced sales and marketing efforts for many years to come.
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