Teams that played games at Medford's U.S. Cellular Community Park spent twice as much money locally in 2009 as they did in 2008, and some 80 local jobs were preserved, according to a city of Medford economic impact study of the park.
Local teams, visiting teams and spectators at the sports park generated nearly $6.5 million in spending in the city, compared to about $3 million in 2008, according to the second annual study. Much of that spending occurred at hotels and restaurants.
"The sports park has increased our business," said Dave Boteilho, general manager at Abby's Legendary Pizza on South Riverside Avenue. "When there's a tournament, we generally have five teams each weekend."
Boteilho said business from the sports park has been a supplement during an overall downturn in business caused by the recession.
The opening of five additional sports fields last May at the two-year-old sports park helped drive the spending, as the new fields attracted more and larger tournaments, said Brian Sjothun, Medford parks and recreation director.
The park's artificial turf and Southern Oregon's mild climate allow teams to play outdoors all year long.
"The field sells itself many times," said Rich Rosenthal, Medford recreation superintendent. "There aren't a lot of sports facilities with this capacity."
The report analyzed various data, including surveys of visiting teams about what they spent in town. Economic activity was calculated using formulas crafted by John Crompton, a Texas A&M University professor who specializes in marketing and financing for parks, recreation and conservation, Rosenthal said.
More than 3,000 games and 37 tournaments were played in 2009 at the park's dozen fields, including the Oregon Youth Soccer Association's Fred Meyer Presidents Cup Nov. 21-22.
Two of the strongest economic stimulants were the Rogue Valley Cup, estimated to have generated nearly $700,000 in sales, and the Rogue Valley Senior Softball Fall Classic, estimated to have spurred nearly $600,000 in sales, Rosenthal said.
In 2009, at least 707 teams (including 448 from out of town and 259 local) played at the sports park, located at 300 Lowry Lane, according to the parks department. Some 288 teams played at the park in 2008.
Parks officials hope to secure $6 million to build six additional fields. What city officials called phase 4 of construction would give Medford the capacity to host national tournaments, Rosenthal said, but no funds are available for the expansion at this time.
"Payback is about two years because of the economic impact," Sjothun said.
The city already has spent a total of $24 million to buy the 132-acre property and build the existing fields and outbuildings. The expense was covered by revenue bonds, which are funded by increases in a park utility fee paid by city residents and a lodging tax on local motels and hotels.
"It's just a fantastic park that has lived up to expectations," said City Councilman Greg Jones.
One of the notable tournaments slated for the sports park this year is the U.S. Youth Soccer Region 4 Presidents Cup, which will draw 80 to 120 teams June 16-20.
"That's the largest tournament this town has ever hosted," Rosenthal said.
A Memorial Day baseball tournament and the Rogue Valley Cup, both slated for May 29-31, could be a "million-dollar" weekend, Rosenthal said.
Reach reporter Paris Achen at 541-776-4459 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.