Patriot Park North is first county sports tourism site

May 19, 2023

Fairfax County Times

By Taneika Duhaney

Last month, Fairfax County leaders unveiled Patriot Park North in Springfield District. 

Patriot Park North, the county’s first foray into sports tourism, is the result of years of collaboration between the Southwestern Youth Association, the Sports Tourism Task Force, Fairfax County Park Authority, Visit Fairfax, the Athletic Council, the NOVA Travel Baseball League and other organizations. 

Sports tourism, one of the fastest growing segments of the tourism industry, happens on large and small scales. The Olympics, World Cup, NBA and the NFL all host events that allow people to travel across town or across the country to see their favorite teams or players compete in real time. On a smaller scale, Patriot Park North allows families to travel and watch their children or colleagues participate in baseball or other sporting tournaments. 

Championed by the Chairman of the Sports Tourism Task Force and Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity, Patriot Park North features six turf fields with covered dugouts and bleachers, three warm up areas, scoreboards with wireless controllers, eight batting cages, press boxes, concession stands and MUSCO Vision streaming service.

“The opening of this facility is a milestone not just for the Springfield District, but for the county,” said Herrity in a recent press release. 

With additional park amenities like onsite maintenance crews during tournaments, electricity at all fields, emergency first aid kits, food truck areas, and the ability to sell merchandise onsite, Patriot Park North is anticipated to be a lucrative investment for the county.

The Park has 26 events, including tournaments hosting 20 to 70 teams, booked between now and November. Each event is expected to net between $162,000 to more than $1 million. Based on the county’s sports tourism calculator, each team has on average 15 athletes, three coaches, two family members per athlete, one umpire and a staff member on the field. 

Revenue generated from these events during this period are projected to surpass $11 million-relatively small numbers considering the impact of sports tourism. 

The sport tourism market is expected to grow by 14.5% between now and 2032 according to Future Market Insights. In 2021, sports travelers, event organizers, and venues spent $39.7 billion across a wide range of sectors according to Sports Travel Magazine. And though Fairfax County is new to the sports tourism party, the impact of sports tourism is evident down I-95. Across the Richmond region, sports tourism had an estimated $76.7 million and $89 million economic impact in 2021 and 2022 according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

For residents concerned about traffic in and around Patriot Park North, Herrity’s office shared that the community should not be affected by parking or traffic. With 477 parking spaces, tournaments scheduled on nights and weekends during off-peak hours, and events having multiple starting times, residents should not be adversely affected by the influx of tourists visiting the region.  

Leaders are however expecting a positive impact in retail patronage. 

“The area should see an uptick with more visitors, generating more retail spending because tournaments bring people to the area,” said Patriot Park North Manager Timothy Lander. Revenue generated from Patriot Park North “goes into the FCPA revenue fund to help offset operating expenses.”

With the success of Patriot Park North, future sports tourism sites should not be a surprise. 

Herrity shared that Patriot Park North “is one example of the many ways we can partner with great community organizations like SYA, in order to provide top-of-the-line sports facilities for residents and at the same time diversify our revenue and reduce the burden on taxpayers with sports tourism revenues. This is the first of what I hope will be many state-of-the-art athletic facilities we will be opening for our residents.” 

Though a new sports tourism site isn’t in the works, the Sports Tourism Task Force is keeping a close eye on developments. 

“The [Sports Tourism] task force is constantly evaluating potential opportunities for sports tourism development in the County. There are several potential partners interested in developing sports tourism facilities in Fairfax County. The task force is not actively weighing in at this point in the process, but if the projects move forward, then it will,” said Herrity’s Deputy Chief of Staff Meredith Martinez Corwin.