New sports facility wins big with $17.5 million economic impact
By Alex Shelton
With one year of events and tournaments completed, amateur sports have made a big impact on the Smoky Mountain economy. July 2015 marks the one-year anniversary of the Rocky Top Sports World in Gatlinburg, Tenn. The facility has exceeded all first year event projections.
Economic goals were set at $10 million in the first year of operation, but Rocky Top Sports World officials report a $17.5 million impact since opening. “This proves the market was prime for a sports facility in the southeast region,” stated Gatlinburg City Manager Cindy Ogle. The venue has produced 44 multi-day events, surpassing targets by 69 percent.
As youth sports tourism is the fastest growing segment in travel, city and county leaders pursued the idea of a new facility to draw visitors to the area. “The Sevier County and Gatlinburg commissioners demonstrated great foresight in the development of Rocky Top Sports World,” said County Mayor Larry Waters. Gatlinburg Mayor Mike Werner added, “The strong first-year performance indicates it was the right investment for our community.”
With feasibility and planning services provided by the Sports Facilities Advisory, the vision for this type of facility was immediately recognized as a growth opportunity. “Rocky Top Sports World is operated by The Sports Facilities Management (SFM),” SFM CEO Dev Pathik said. “Gatlinburg has long been a world class vacation destination. Rocky Top Sports World has made it the ultimate tournament and event destination. The setting is unique. The venue provides teams with the chance to experience the Great Smoky Mountains and Gatlinburg before, during and after events. You have to see it to believe it.”
Upon opening, Rocky Top Sports World was immediately identified as a “Top 6 Amateur Basketball Venue in the Country” by Collinson Media and Events.
The sports venue continues with a strong lineup of events slated throughout 2015–16. Upcoming events include the Jabari Davis Speed and Skills Football Camp on August 1 and the Labor Day Soccer Invitational hosted by National Soccer Events. The facility was also recently awarded the AAU 2018 5th Grade Girls National Basketball Championship.
Rocky Top Sports World can host private functions, leadership events and birthday parties. For reservation information, please visit RockyTopSportsWorld.com or call (865) 325-0044.