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Sun, Dec. 08

Howard: The economic impact of public tennis/sporting facilities in the Prescott area
My Point

It’s tough to do a “perfect” study of what the economic impact of having nice public sporting facilities built, programmed and staffed in a city such as Prescott.

Where if you cover the costs of the staffing and annual upkeep of each, you’re certainly ahead of the game.

The idea is normally not to recoup the initial costs of the capital improvement in this type of situation, but consider it a quality of life benefit for the residents of that area with some tax money set aside to off-set the costs associated with the possibility of reaching out further with regional/state/national events bringing an influx of visitors (and their money) known as tourism.

Certainly there is the necessary ingredient of accountability in making each facility as used and successful as possible.

Is the facility intended to attract tourists or visitors, “new” money brought into the community as a result of it’s programs (tournaments/clinics/exhibitions)? Then the impact can be measured by the spending that takes place at hotels, restaurants, gasoline stations and retail stores. All of this generates “outside” money.

Local money is considered to only be “recirculating”.

Local money for such normally doesn’t show a profit and shouldn’t, but hopefully off-sets the costs to maintain and manage the facility on a day to day basis. In most cases it makes sense to have low “user fees” as opposed to general tax dollars spent so the people who are using it the most are paying for it the most. But once again, not to gouge those users but to maintain the facility and it’s programs properly.

The sports park may be large or small, hopefully with partnerships of successful locals donating possible land, money and other special resources to help create these special healthy community recreational facilities.

Government is not to be overburdened with the aspect of recreation, it’s main duty is our basic needs, but when the economy is doing well and there is excess, creating sports facilities for the general public that are possible to upkeep and run with low user fees can really do a lot for a community.

*Nice programmed facilities create centers of healthy fun activity for all ages, a hub or gathering spot of like-minded people getting to know one another, competing on an amateur basis, building an atmosphere of pride and cohesiveness in the community.

*Jobs are created, some full - most part time, and these facilities are and can be an economic drawing tool of development for businesses.

Also for people looking for a great place to retire, or a second home where they’ve come to visit, had a great time and met many others who have moved to the area due to nice sport facilities they are used to having.

*Some communities (such as Indian Wells) have created “Sport Entertainment” to the tune of full time facilities that are crazy busy getting national and world attention.

*Spin off businesses such as sporting goods stores, instructors, clothing, shoes, special equipment and services normally come into existence.

*When you look at what the big picture of the clean, healthy, fun aspect of what recreational sport facilities lend to a city and it’s tourism, as long as you build affordably, staff efficiently and stay budget minded, you can’t go too far wrong.

Locals are happy, prideful and healthier, visitors enjoy the city that much more with fun activities to join in on, businesses reap the benefits, jobs are created, an influx of new homeowners, property values increase, the city gets good press and reviews, and the hardest part is keeping it going in a positive vein with good staff and programs.

The Prescott area is a great place for all kinds of sporting activities and it hasn’t gotten that way overnight. Everyone here expects it to only get better and better in all regards and that takes a lot of open mindedness and planning.

Chris Howard is a local USPTA Tennis Professional with over 50 years in the racquet and fitness industry. He can be reached at 928-642-6775 or choward4541@gmail.com.

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