Charlotte County economy benefits from sports tourism

While beaches and theme parks bring millions of dollars to the state, Charlotte County is capitalizing on a new vacation trend.

The Annual Snowbird Baseball Classic kicked off at the Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte.

It’s a six week division I and II college baseball tournament that draws hundreds of families like Marcia Smith’s family to the area.

“The way recruitment happens now, it requires families to shell out a lot of money and a lot of time to get their son in a position to be seen by college scouts,” Smith said.

Traveling for sports has transformed into the modern family pastime.

“We’re busy every weekend from March to August,” said Annie Gernon, a Western Michigan University baseball coach’s wife.

Charlotte County is profiting on a multimillion dollar sports tourism industry, hosting at least a dozen different sporting events including: women’s college lacrosse, BMX competitions, gymnastics meets and college baseball.

The county rakes in about $10 million to $12 million a year, not including the money coming in from Rays spring training.

“We love it and we’ll sacrifice whatever we have to do to come down here and support our baseball team,” Gernon said.

Reporter:Kristi Gross
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