Sport Tourism London Working For You

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

by Jeffrey Reed, Editor, LondonOntarioSports.com

Anyone who has organized a small sports event – a memorial golf tournament, a fun run or softball fundraiser, for example – knows how exhausting that task can be.

Imagine, then, the logistics nightmares of hosting a Memorial Cup hockey tournament, or World Figure Skating Championships.

Sport Tourism London has seen it all – the good, the bad and the ugly – yet it’s a good bet most Londoners don’t know that the sport arm of Tourism London is here to assist local sports organizations in every aspect of their operations.

On December 4, Sport Tourism London, along with City of London Parks and Recreation, host the sixth annual London Community Sport Organizations meeting at Civic Gardens. From 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., administrators with London’s hundreds of sports groups have an opportunity to meet one-on-one with officials from those two organizations and exchange ideas and opportunities beneficial to both parties.

It’s speed dating with a sports flavour, according to Zanth Jarvis, London’s director of Sport Tourism.

“We meet with some of the same people each year, but we also get a ton of new people, for example new association presidents. So with those new people coming in, sometimes the transfer of knowledge is difficult,” explained Jarvis, who in June 2018 succeed Cheryl Finn, now Tourism London general manager following John Winston’s retirement.

“We also meet with new organizations. So it’s a great way to let them know what we can do and also find out what they have going on. It’s an opportunity to discover the pulse of what’s going on in the local sports community.”

The five previous meetings involved lengthy presentations, but Jarvis said this year’s more intimate gathering will allow for more meaningful dialogue.

Zanth Jarvis

Sport Tourism London’s offerings run the gamut, with expertise in bid development, securing accommodations, venue coordination, marketing, city logistics including bylaws, permits, trash removal and road closures, food services, transportation and volunteer recruitment. It’s probably the least-understood civic office, yet its work has been in instrumental in putting London on the map.

London has a long history of hosting big sports events, but that role really came to life when the Forest City hosted the 2001 Canada Summer Games. A template was created, and since then has assisted numerous events including the granddaddy of them all: the 2013 World Figure Skating Championships at Budweiser Gardens, which saw more than 62,000 attendees and economic spinoffs estimated at more than $32 million.

In 2020, London hosts curling’s Continental Cup January 9-12 at Western Fair Sports Centre, the Ontario Summer Games July 30-August 2 at various venues plus golf’s Canada Life Championship at Highland Country Club next September.

But Jarvis said despite the fact London is a proven winner in hosting national and international events, success starts at the grassroots level.

“We have to build from the ground-up. You can’t just go after a big sporting event without strengthening your local organizations, and hosting smaller events so that you are in a position to say, OK, we have our resume ready, now let’s go after a national or international event,” he said.

And today, pursuing big-time sports events more resembles an Ali-Frazier fight than a walk in the park, according to Jarvis.

“Almost every municipality or region is invested in sport tourism, so there’s a lot of competition. They’re seeing the value in it, and are contributing more funds to it. New facilities are popping up. So there’s competition, but it’s about finding your niche – knowing what you’re good at – and taking advantage of opportunities.”

For every Budweiser Gardens or TD Stadium, there are scores of local grassroots facilities, all of which play into the 2019 Parks and Recreation master plan. It was adopted by the City in June, has a 10-year timeframe extending to 2028 and includes a longer-term outlook for major capital projects to 2039.

Attendees at the December 4 meeting will be updated on the plan, which holds the blueprint for future generations of Londoners. It’s available for reading here.

In the end, Jarvis hopes that Sport Tourism London can assists local sports organizations in being the best that they can be, while inspiring future generations to participate in organized athletics and in any sport offered at City parks and recreation facilities.

“A lot of times these organizations aren’t great at telling their stories and getting them out there,” he said, “but we should be celebrating their accomplishments.

“We want them to focus on their sports, so that participants have a great time. We can help with all of those behind-the-scenes things that parents and volunteers typically are not experts in – tough things to navigate.”

If You Go
6th Annual London Community Sport Organizations Meeting
Hosted by Sport Tourism London and City of London Parks and Recreation
Dec. 4 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Civic Gardens Complex, 625 Springbank Drive
Light food and beverages provided
Free admission, registration required – visit http://www.londontourism.ca/2019sportmeet to register

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Award-winning sportswriter and three-time author Jeffrey Reed has covered sports in London and Southwestern Ontario since 1980. Reed is also editor of LondonOntarioGolf.com. Reach him at jeff@londonontariosports.com.

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About jeffreyreed

A leading Canadian communications professional. Corporate office http://www.JeffreyReedReporting.com established 1989. Publisher/Editor of this website and https://londonontariogolf.com.

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