National Sports Tourism Taskforce launches in RVA
Leaders from sports organizations around North America gathered in Richmond’s Quirk Hotel this passed weekend to help collaborate on increasing visibility for LGBTQ sports teams and events in the US.
The event, organized by Connect Sports Marketplace, a division of Collinson Media, aimed to connect cities with LGBTQ sports teams and events to facilitate better travel experiences. The hope is to give an untapped group of sports enthusiasts and participants the chance to develop networks around the country.
And it’s a challenge LGBTQ groups can face when wanting to bring their event to a new town.
Kimberly Hadley is the Co-President of the International Gay and Lesbian Football Association (IGLFA) – “real soccer” she jokes. She spoke some about how groups like hers will reach out to new cities to host events, but once they find out the name of the group, or their alignment with sexual minorities, and all of a sudden “there’s not room at then inn.”
“Our money’s just as good as anyone else’s money,” she said. “It goes beyond the human rights aspect, but the accessibility thing is still a problem. Even in the big cities… some people ares still in the dark ages.”
Meanwhile, a IGLFA event can bring as many as 1,100 participants to a town, totaling about a half a million dollars in economic benefit to a region according to Hadley.
Said her group and others like it have less issues overseas, but of course this is a National task force and they hope it makes impacts here in the states.
It might be hard to imagine someone scoffing at half a million dollars in local revenue, but it happens. When the National LGBTQ Sports Task Force was announced, VP of Marketplaces for Collinson Media and Events Patrick Higgins said he received some negative comments from long time clients.
“This is an interesting development, when do you plan to set up your heterosexual advisory group?” read one less-supportive email he received. “Well, we already have that,” he said. “It’s called every other sporting event…”
But Higgins commitment to supporting LGBTQ sporting events is two fold – the economic impact as well as the social impact.
“If your a teenager questioning your sexuality, and theres a big LGBTQ softball event [in town], it might be a chance for you to find friends or support,” he said in an interview with GayRVA ahead of the Task Force meeting. “You never know what the benefits are from something like that. You can change somebody’s life with something like that.”
But the Task Force is mainly about economic impacts, and Hadley said she hopes it can help less LGBTQ-welcoming cities understand that.
“In the end of the day it comes down to the all mighty dollar,” she said. “Unless you’re still stuck in a small town in the bible belt where they’re gonna crucify you if you come to the door, those are places that are going to change in time.”
Hadley made it clear that they weren’t the ones getting the economic benefits from their events, but rather its ”the cities, the states make[ing] money. We might have sanctioning fees based on a teams participation… we’re not the ones making the profit here.”
The weekend’s events gave ample time for the Task Force members to network and learn more about the resources available from Connect sports, but Richmond Region Tourism also made $500 donations to local groups ROSMY and Diversity Richmond at an event Saturday morning.
Next Thursday, Sept. 1, marks the start of Virginia Pride month, celebrating and honoring the entire LGBTQ community. You can kick yours off right at VA Pride and OutRVA‘s celebration at Quirk Hotel. At the party, guests will have the opportunity to taste two craft beers exclusively made for VA Pride and OutRVA, a collaboration with Ardent [...]August 22, 2016
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