The rise of sports activities tourism led Lancaster County’s comeback | Native Enterprise

Sports activities tourism is a rising and infrequently neglected phase of tourism in Lancaster County, stated Ed Harris, CEO of Uncover Lancaster. 

Harris has credited sports activities vacationers heading to tournaments on the pandemic-resilient Spooky Nook Sports activities with bolstering group journey in 2021.

Nationally, there have been 175 million sports activities vacationers in 2021, in accordance to a report by Fort Value-based Sports activities ETA, the affiliation for the sports activities occasions and tourism trade. 

In the meantime, WinterGreen Analysis has pegged the youth sports activities market at $19.2 billion market within the U.S., rivaling the scale of the $15 billion NFL. Youth sports activities market is split into segments that symbolize income technology from journey, gear, group membership, facility building, software program and venue rental.







Dad and mom, siblings, and sports activities followers watch kids play basketball at Nook Sports activities on Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022. Nook is on monitor for 1.3 million guests this 12 months with about 5,000 individuals readily available for tournaments over the primary weekend this month.




Venue rental is the place Spooky Nook, in East Hempfield Township suits in. Spooky Nook Sports activities started at and is known as for its handle, 2913 Spooky Nook Street. It’s the largest indoor sports activities complicated in america, offering regulation courts and enjoying fields for greater than a dozen sports activities below one roof.


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Along with the 700,000-square-foot indoor facility, it presents an out of doors subject hockey pitch and a climate-controlled dome used for subject hockey, soccer, soccer and extra. 

It additionally options in depth leisure amenities, together with a climbing middle, health middle, meals courtroom and arcade, in addition to occasion and assembly area for particular person health coaching to birthday events to nationwide sporting occasions.

As youth journey sports activities and competitors grows, Spooky Nook is on monitor to see 1.5 million guests in 2022, stated Mackenzie Bender, company director of promoting & sponsorships. That’s up from about 860,106 in the course of the pandemic 12 months of 2020. 







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Dad and mom, siblings, and sports activities followers line the partitions and bleachers as they watch kids play basketball at Nook Sports activities on Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022. Nook is on monitor for 1.3 million guests this 12 months with about 5,000 individuals readily available for tournaments over the primary weekend this month.




A 2018 examine commissioned by Spooky Nook estimated that $15.5 million in Spooky Nook Sports activities income and $39.2 million in off-site ancillary spending would lead to a complete direct impression of $54.7 million within the area’s economic system. It’s not removed from an $15 million resort undertaking on 3.3 acres and the brand new Penn State Well being Lancaster Medical Middle. 

Bender stated Spooky Nook is constant to replace to serve its clientele, together with repolishing its courtroom facility and changing its outside subject with turf so it may be used for soccer and soccer in addition to subject hockey. 

Bender stated the power is constructing capability to host multiple occasion at time.

Spooky Nook is seeing its largest progress in renting the venue to teams that deal with all of the organizing and ticketing. 

Out of 52 event weekends, about 40 of them are leases through which Spooky Nook doesn’t run the occasions. 

Maybe finest recognized for subject hockey tournaments, the power has hosted corn gap tournaments, senior video games, darts, lifeless lifting and even curler derby. 

The power sees a chance to host commerce exhibits and conventions.

“It’s actually been an space that’s seeing double digit progress,” Bender stated. “Solely so many locations can maintain 1,800 individuals.” 

In September, Spooky Nook opened its first location outdoors of Pennsylvania in a former paper mill in Hamilton, Ohio. Spooky Nook Champion Mill is Ohio’s second-largest conference middle and the nation’s largest sports activities complicated, spanning over 1,000,000 sq. ft in whole.

In Pennsylvania, Spooky Nook presently employs about 620, together with  full-time, part-time, seasonal and intern staff, and in Ohio it has about 45 staff, Bender stated. The objective is to have about 250 in Ohio within the first two years, she stated.







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Dad and mom, siblings, and sports activities followers watch kids wrestle at Nook Sports activities on Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022. Nook is on monitor for 1.3 million guests this 12 months with about 5,000 individuals readily available for tournaments over the primary weekend this month.




“The groups between Pennsylvania and Ohio will collaborate and there may be some overlap,” Bender stated. “Our management groups oversees their respective group in each places.”

Sports activities tourism encompasses extra than simply Spooky Nook, Harris famous.

Clipper Journal Stadium, dwelling of the Lancaster Barnstormers, an expert baseball group within the Atlantic League, is on monitor for $1.3 million alternative of its grass subject with turf. It obtained approval from Lancaster’s Metropolis Revitalization and Enchancment Zone in Could however is awaiting state authorization, stated Mike Reynolds, Barnstormers president and normal supervisor.

The undertaking would in impact make the stadium a multi use facility. Harris stated that will make the power extra enticing for different sports-related tourism.