From the Cheap Seats: Six Nations Sports Tourism, why not?

The Can/Am Six Nations Slash have done the entire community of Six Nations a good turn by applying for, and getting to host, this year’s Presidents Cup Tournament.

For a long time, contributions to sports entities has been seen as a “feel good” expenditure which makes the community look good, that is if the local council decides if it has the “extra” money to contribute.

In more recent times, the spin-off revenues to a host community for such events have been gathered and examined as a revenue source, and not a necessary expenditure.

At Six Nations, local businesspeople regularly give to minor sports and that is highly commendable. Arrows Express, The Dreamcatcher Foundation, and other private supporters of local sports make Six Nations a sports centre, certainly among reserves.

But can more be done?

Several years ago, I read an article from Kamloops, B.C., where the city fathers (and mothers) took a second look at the economic potentials of hosting major sporting tournaments. They applied to the province to ask for the official title of, Kamloops, the Tournament Capital of B.C.

I was working at the old Brant News at that time and researched the piece, which I found intriguing. At the time Brantford had a young, forward thinking mayor who really supported local sports and I thought, why not “Brantford, Ontario’s Tournament Capital?”

After calling the mayor of Kamloops, and getting all kinds of financial impact statistics from their research, I made some competitive analysis of Brantford as it compares with Kamloops.

At the time, the two cities were equal in population, sports facilities, hotels and motels, restaurants and other related services.

According to the then mayor of Kamloops, the rewards from changing their opinion from sports donations to investment in sports tourism, were almost immediate, and significant.

I wrote an article about it and soon Pat Schewchuk came to the office to talk to me about the article. She took the ball and ran with it creating what is now, “Brantford, The Tournament Capital of Ontario.”

Since it’s creation, The Tournament Capital Committee has actively lobbied for dozens of tournaments of all kinds on behalf of leagues or teams. The Committee helps with organizers with their years of experience and know how, to help plan.

Brantford has since added many more sports fields, soccer and ball parks and indoor and outdoor arenas and the Tournament Capital organization is still growing and has become one of the jewels in Brantford’s crown.

Having said all that, I can see the Six Nations sporting community is already very successful in bringing tournaments to “da rez.” But it could be done much more efficiently if there was an organization set to kick into gear to support the work of teams and leagues bringing tournaments here. It would be an organization of event volunteers who have done it before many times and know how to do it. They would help with filling out the applications and make available lists of nearby food and lodging locations, maps, tournament contact lists, maybe even help with some give-away packages for visiting teams or athletes. Team liaisons would be assigned to each visiting team, equipped with knowledge of the history and uniqueness of the Grand River Territory.

The cultural and economic spin-offs of such a volunteer organization can be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual revenue. But it will take cooperation and a further development of what is already going on at Six Nations to maximize the effort.

In closing, once again I want to congratulate the Six Nations Slash for hosting this year’s Presidents Cup. I challenge local business owners to check their weekly revenues this and next week. There is one I know is booming this week. ILA Sports, located at the Iroquois Lacrosse Arena where the tournament is taking place has to be doing very well indeed, but that’s just a no-brainer.

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