NATIONAL SPORTING EVENTS FILL FOUR OF FIVE AUGUST WEEKENDS, BOOSTING WEST MICHIGAN ECONOMY BY $3.3 MILLION AND FILLING 3,817 HOTEL ROOM NIGHTS

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CONTACT:              Kim Skeltis, APR; (616) 419-8385; kim@blueblazepr.com

NATIONAL SPORTING EVENTS FILL FOUR OF FIVE AUGUST WEEKENDS, BOOSTING WEST MICHIGAN ECONOMY BY $3.3 MILLION AND FILLING 3,817 HOTEL ROOM NIGHTS

USA BMX Great Lakes Nationals, USRowing Masters National Championships and Two USA Softball Men’s Championships Attract Thousands of National Athletes and Spectators to West Michigan

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., Aug. 6, 2019 – This month, thousands of athletes and spectators from across the country and world will descend on West Michigan for four national sports championships filling four out of the five August weekends. Showcasing sports from BMX racing, to rowing, to softball, the events collectively will generate $3.3 million and fill 3,817 hotel room nights.

The national events include the USA BMX Great Lakes Nationals (Aug. 9-11 at Rock City BMX in Plainfield Twp.), USRowing Masters National Championships (Aug. 15-18 at Riverside Park), USA Softball Men’s Fastpitch Open East National Championship (Aug. 23 – 25 at the Art Van Sports Complex), and USA Softball Men’s Slowpitch Class D Northern Championship (Aug. 30 – Sept. 2 at the Art Van Sports Complex).

“Grand Rapids is a favored destination for hosting national sporting events, as is evidenced by our August schedule jam-packed with national championships,” said Mike Guswiler, president of the West Michigan Sports Commission who bid on, won and is hosting these events in collaboration with the national rights holders. “Sports tourism is alive and well in West Michigan, and this summer’s lineup of championships drawing national and international athletes is a strong case in point.”

USA BMX Great Lakes Nationals, Aug. 9-11

The first national event in August is the USA BMX Great Lakes Nationals Aug. 9-11 at Rock City BMX, 3300 10 Mile Rd. in Plainfield Township. The event is expected to draw 800 to 1,000 riders plus 2,000 spectators from across the United States and Canada, with the majority coming from eastern and central states. The event will generate $817,184 in direct visitor spending and fill 1,500 hotel room nights.

As the first national BMX event hosted in the Grand Rapids area, the event also serves as a national qualifier, with riders pursuing points to earn entry in the USA BMX Grand Nationals in Tulsa in November. Riders compete in classes based on gender and experience level, ranging in age from two years old on balance bikes, to 60-plus years old. Riders can compete Saturday, Aug. 10, Sunday, Aug. 11 or both days. Each heat or “moto” is one lap, which is 1,155 feet long.

“We are excited to have a national BMX event in West Michigan, something we have looked forward to hosting since we broke ground six years ago,” said Charlie Salisbury, president of West Michigan BMX. “This is a big deal to put Michigan on the map in the sport of BMX racing, plus showcase our beautiful, state-of-the-art BMX track at Rock City BMX to all the racers.”

The event is free to attend though parking is $10 per day or $30 for the weekend. Riders can register until the day of the event, and no prequalification is necessary. For more information, visit usabmx.com/site/bmx_races/392740?section_id=228 or facebook.com/rockcitybmx2014.

USRowing Masters National Championships, Aug. 15-18

The USRowing Masters National Championships returns for the second time to Grand Rapids, Aug. 15-18 at Riverside Park at 2001 Monroe NW where it was first held in 2014.

Drawing a record number of entries for a Masters National rowing event at 2,122 entries consisting of 1,644 athletes in 150 rowing clubs from across the country (with 137 entries from 10 clubs in Michigan) competing in 210 events, the Masters National Championships is hosted annually by USRowing (governing body for rowing in the United States) as its largest national event, featuring competitors over the age of 21. The 150 participating clubs represent 33 U.S. states, three Canadian provinces, plus Austria, Guatemala, Poland and Serbia – generating an estimated economic impact of $1.8 million and filling 1,725 hotel room nights. Approximately 5,000 spectators are predicted to attend.

“We are so excited to come back to Grand Rapids,” said James Rawson, USRowing regatta director. “The athletes had such a great time here in 2014 that they insisted that we return – and this time, they brought even more of their teammates. We have 600 more entries this year than we did in 2014, and it is going to be a very full racing schedule. When the racing is done each day, the regatta beer garden will be busy, and the athletes will have a great time exploring Grand Rapids.”

The competition consists of 50 rowing events and more than 120 races daily over four days of competition along a 1,000-meter, six-lane river course that begins in the middle of Riverside Park near Guild Street and ends at the south end of Riverside Park near Knapp Street. Heats run approximately three to four minutes long and take place in the morning, with medaling races in the afternoon. Rowing starts at 8 a.m. daily.

The regatta is free to watch, with designated viewing areas in Riverside Park with large-screen monitors to show inaccessible parts of the course. The park will include a beer tent with televisions to view the action and a grandstand for high views.

Free shuttles to Riverside Park run from designated parking lots in Grand Rapids, and spectators are encouraged to use the free DASH bus service, The Rapid, or bicycle. Rapid/DASH bus information can be found at Mobile GR and Parking Services. Also, volunteers are needed daily to help with all aspects of the event. For full event and volunteer information, visit 2019regatta.com.

USA Softball Men’s Championships

USA Softball, the national governing body of softball in the United States, hosts two men’s national championships in August at the Art Van Sports Complex at 3300 10 Mile Rd. NE in Plainfield Township – both of which are coming to Grand Rapids for the first time.

The Men’s Fastpitch Open East National Championship Aug. 23-25 is the second highest level for fastpitch softball (after the Major Division), featuring approximately 14 teams and 170 players from Michigan and other Midwest states. The tournament is expected to generate $230,810 in direct visitor spending and fill 220 hotel room nights.

The Men’s Class D Northern Slowpitch National Championship Aug. 30-Sept. 2 will feature 25 to 30 teams and approximately 300 players from Michigan and states throughout the country. The tournament is expected to generate $455,000 in direct visitor spending and fill 372 hotel room nights.

“These championships present an exciting opportunity to show off the Art Van Sports Complex, one of the best facilities not only in Michigan but in the Midwest,” said Darrin Duistermars, Midwest region vice president to the USA Softball board of directors. “These tournaments can open doors for us in terms of being stepping stones for hosting more USA Softball events. These are also great spectator events. The fastpitch event is especially unique because those tournaments are not as prevalent. Sports fans will have a chance to watch some very talented adult softball players.”

Admission for each tournament is $7 for a day pass and $15 for a weekend pass, with children under 5 free. Tickets can be purchased on location at the Art Van Sports Complex. Information about both USA Softball events can be found at usasoftballgr.com.

Media wishing to cover any of these events should contact Kim Skeltis, kim@blueblazepr.com or 616-419-8385.

About the West Michigan Sports Commission

The non-profit West Michigan Sports Commission (WMSC) identifies, secures and hosts a diverse level of youth and amateur sporting events to positively impact the economy and quality of life in the region. Since its inception in 2007, the WMSC has booked 734 sporting events and tournaments that attracted more than 1.2 million athletes and visitors, generating more than $344 million in direct visitor spending. For more information, visit westmisports.com and Facebook.com/WestMichiganSportsCommission and follow @WestMiSports.