Oklahoma City’s sports tourism numbers increase

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – When you think of the best sports destinations in the country, cities like Los Angeles, Dallas or Boston probably come to mind.

However, sports tourism in Oklahoma City is making strides towards becoming a part of that conversation.

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“It’s an exciting time for sports in Oklahoma City and I think the arrow is only looking up,” said Adam Wisniewski, the VP of sports for Visit OKC. “We haven’t seen anything like maybe ever, especially this time of year.”

Just this month, Oklahoma City will host at least two Thunder playoff games, the Olympic trials for canoe/kayak slalom and kayak cross and the Memorial Marathon.

“If you would compare say this year to ten years ago, it’s not even, you know, comparable,” said Shelley Zumwalt, Oklahoma’s Secretary of Tourism, Wildlife and Heritage. “We expect to see over 100,000 people that will descend on this area specifically for sports tourism [this month.]”

Zumwalt said tourism brings in more out of state dollars than any other industry besides oil and gas.

“If you look at say a playoff game or the Olympic trials, really where the economic impact expands is in those restaurants, in those hotel stays,” said Zumwalt.

According to the tourism department, last year people attending a Thunder game spent $20.4 million just outside of the arena on things like lodging, food and transportation. That averaged out to about a half of a million dollar impact per game outside of the Paycom.

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“The playoffs obviously will be even bigger,” said Zumwalt.

She added that tourism is one of the fastest growing sectors in the travel industry.

The Olympic trials are expected to bring in 5,000 attendees. According to Visit OKC, the marathon typically generates more than $10 million of economic impact every year.

“The fact that that’s happening all at the same time, it’s just what builds this level of excitement for Oklahoma City and really puts us on the map as a premier national sports destination,” said Wisniewski.

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