Sports tourism can be big business in Minnesota

Besides being the largest youth soccer tournament in the western hemisphere, the Schwan’s USA CUP showcases the National Sports Center NSC and Minnesota as more of a destination than some might think.

National Sports Center's Barclay Kruse believes Minnesota can attract even more sporting and recreation events in the future. Submitted photo
National Sports Center’s Barclay Kruse believes Minnesota can attract even more sporting and recreation events in the future. Submitted photo

Back in late May, a group of professionals from across the state representing tourism, sports facilities and sports organization gathered at the National Sports Center to come up with ways to increase the number of mainstream, adventure and adapted sports events held in Minnesota.

“That the NSC was selected as a site [to host this event] is an honor for us and we’ve devoted a lot of time and resources to this,” said Barclay Kruse, National Sports Center chief communications officer.

Presenting the seminar was a way to get the word out that sports tourism is important for local economies, he said.

Success doesn’t necessarily mean hosting a national-level championship.

Instead, the National Sports Center has moved toward lower profile events like a rugby, hockey, adventure sports or Ultimate (frisbee) championship.

“Convention and visitors bureaus are geared toward championship events and not executing the figure skating event or soccer tournament,” Kruse said,

The ultimate goal is for more facilities to create their yearly events, he said.

“You live through the growing pains of the first year and then 10 years in, hopefully, they become prosperous,” Kruse said.

Not many other facilities have the infrastructure in place to replicate what the USA CUP does in generating more than $20 million in economic impact or money spent on food, lodging and recreation, according to Kruse.

Knowing participation in amateur sports crosses generations, the economic impact can mean significant business impact for communities.

This ranges from $1 million in visitor spending for the host city and multi-million dollars for larger events, according to a press release from

Instead of business leaders, the group that gathered at the National Sports Center included representatives from sports communities, bidding, hosting or creating activities from Bloomington, Eagan, Fargo-Moorhead, Iron Range, Mankato, Minneapolis, Minneapolis Northwest, New Ulm, Owatonna, Rochester, Roseville, St. Louis Park, St. Paul and the Twin Cities Gateway (Minneapolis north).

Jason Olson is at
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