TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (June 15, 2016) - Leon County's Apalachee Regional Park (ARP) was named 2016 "Venue of the Year" in mid-size markets by the Florida Sports Foundation at its recent annual summit.
The county facility was one of six honored for outstanding efforts in sports tourism. The foundation applauded ARP for the economic benefit it brought to the area when hosting local, state and national cross country events that generated $9.7 million in direct visitor spending between 2012 and 2015.
Leon County Division of Tourism's Brian Hickey, director of sports, and Amanda Heidecker, assistant director of sports, accepted the award on behalf of the county and the Tallahassee Sports Council.
Opening in 2009, the park is one of the few facilities in the nation that offers a permanent championship cross country running course. It has hosted the NCAA Regional Championships, Florida State University Invitational, Atlantic Coast Conference Championships and the Florida High School Athletic Association State Championship.
This fall, the course will host nine major cross country events including three national championship meets. The meets are projected to attract 10,000 runners and nearly 21,000 visitors – using 11,600 hotel room nights and generating $8.4 million of direct spending in Leon County.
Upcoming national events include two USA Track & Field Club Cross Country National Championships and the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) Cross Country National Championship.
Originally an unused portion of the county landfill, the “landfill to park conversion” includes a spectator area, parking and several miles of fiber optic cable that provide additional camera angles, timing stations and the ability to have video display boards in the main spectator area.
The other Florida Sports Foundation awards included:
- Venue of the Year (metropolitan large market): Ice Den, Coral Springs (formerly Incredible Ice) – Broward County Sports Development
- Best Awarded Event of the Year: COPA America Centenario Soccer, Orlando City Soccer
- Best Event of the Year (small market): Snowbird Baseball Classic, Charlotte Harbor Convention and Visitors Bureau
- Best Event of the Year (mid-size market): NCAA Men’s/Women’s Golf Championships, Bradenton Area Sports Commission
- Best Event of the Year (large market): 2016 NCAA Men’s Frozen Four, Tampa Bay Sports Commission
“Each of these awards were earned through the hard work of the sports commission staffs who work tirelessly to enhance their local communities through sports,” said Sports Foundation President John Webb. “The 28 Florida Sports Commissions bring over 3,000 sporting events to the state annually and provide a significant impact to the Florida tourism industry and economy.”
The Tallahassee-based Florida Sports Foundation serves as the state’s lead sports promotion and development organization. For more information about it, visit www.flasports.com.
For more information about Apalachee Regional Park, visit the Sports Tourism section of VisitTallahassee.com.