By Patrick McCallister
For Hometown News
VOLUSIA - If you build it, they will come. The old adage doesn't add the caveat, assuming they know about it.
Volusia County has dozens of private and public sports and recreational facilities suited to host regional or national events. At its last regular meeting on Sept. 6, the county council got a tour of www.sportsvolusia.com. County officials hope the new website will get more tourism dollars and employment into Volusia by making it easier for event organizers to find and choose sports facilities in the county.
"It is an economic-development resource for sports tourism," Dave Byron, county spokesman, said in an interview after the meeting. "The target audience for this website is anyone interested in having a (sporting) event."
Mr. Byron said the website gives event organizers and promoters a convenient way to see if Volusia County can host their events.
"It is a complete inventory of all sports-related facilities in Volusia County," he said. "Private, city, colleges, the county. It has anything a promoter or event host would want to know. It's got every type of statistic we could possibly generate."
Statistics about the facilities include parking and seating capacity, number of bathrooms and other amenities.
Tim Baylie, county parks and recreation culture director, said making it easy for event organizers to get that kind of information rather than making phone calls and searches for it will likely help get Volusia venues on top of lists for selection committees to choose from.
Brent Nelson, senior vice president of the Central Florida Sports Commission, said sports tourism is a growing industry despite the economic downturn.
"Sports, over time, has been seen as recession proof," he said. "(Families) may cut a (recreational) trip, but if their son or daughter is competing, the family will make that trip."
Volusia is a member of the commission, a private non-profit organization that promotes regional sports tourism.
"It's a multi-million dollar driver of economic impacts," Mr. Nelson said. "We're talking hundreds of millions of dollars are generated by sports tourism."
Mr. Byron said developing the site has taken up "hundreds of staff hours" and likely cost about $40,000 to put up.
Mr. Nelson said sportsvolusia.com is unusually ambitious for area governments, and he predicted the county will see more small- and medium-sized sporting events as a result. He was unsure how many visitors or dollars that would translate to.
"I think Volusia County has gone beyond the call of duty to develop something beyond what our other partners have done," he said.