Great Lakes Welcomes Major Sporting Events

The Great Lakes is getting ready to once again welcome one of the world’s greatest team sporting events.  Minnesota will be home to the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska in the Minnesota River Valley from 27 September to 2 October 2016.

Hazeltine was founded by former president of the United States Golf Association (USGA) Totten P. Heffelfinger.  His mission was to build and maintain a golf course suitable for the conduct of national championships and this remains Hazeltine’s mission to this day.

Whilst Minnesota offers hundreds of public golf courses characterized by beautiful, natural settings, excellent conditions and affordability, the Great Lakes region offers more than 3,000 top courses to choose from.

It is little wonder then that the Ryder Cup will return to the spectacular Great Lakes again in 2020, when the US and Europe will this time go head-to-head at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wisconsin which is home to two courses: the Straits and the Irish.

The Great Lakes’ sports travel guide published for 2014 was very well received with tour operators and consumers alike, demonstrating that sports tourism is continuing to flourish.  The sell-out NFL games at Wembley this October 2014, where the Detroit Lions celebrated a 22-21 win, was a clear indication of the ever-growing popularity of American Football within the UK market, highlighting an opportunity to attract UK sports fans across the pond.

Already in Minnesota, preparations are underway to complete a new multi-purpose stadium, having won the bid to host the 52nd Super Bowl in Minneapolis in 2018.  This will be the first time since 1992 that Minnesota will have the privilege of welcoming Super Bowl fans from across the globe.

The stadium, which will typically seat 65,400, will be expandable to 72,000 seats for the 2018 Super Bowl.  With a clear, state-of-the-art roof and five of the largest glass pivoting doors in the world, fans will experience an outdoor feel in a climate-controlled environment.

“Securing the bid is a great and exciting victory for Minnesota,” said Toby McCarrick, Executive Director of Great Lakes USA.  “We’re already working hard promoting all that Minnesota and the wider Great Lakes region offers for sports tourism.  This will intensify over the next two years in the run up to the opening of the new stadium in 2016 which coincides with the Ryder Cup, and then through to the 2018 Super Bowl itself, as we work closely with tour operators to sell tickets and deliver engaging consumer promotions.”

With increasing air routes into the region, including the new Virgin Atlantic direct flight from London to Detroit which launches in early 2015, there are fabulous opportunities to partner with Great Lakes to secure bookings to the region, using these major global sporting events as a powerful hook for consumers.  To this end, targeted trade campaigns including travel agent fam trips and co-op marketing are already in development to make the most of Great Lakes sporting events over the next few years.

Sports-related tourism is now one of the fastest growing sectors of the travel industry and on average 13 million international trips are made annually for the purpose of watching or taking part in a sporting event.  Destinations can benefit from the economic impact sporting events generate, as visitors will still need accommodation, food and drink and are likely to experience other activities during their stay.