Sports can have an exciting and inspiring impact on our lives and bring us together in a time when other aspects of life seem to be pulling us apart. Baseball doesn’t care who you voted for. Basketball doesn’t worry about the certifications you have obtained. Football doesn’t stress over what country your ancestors came from. Sports have an undeniable power which can used to help boost not just your organization or city, but an entire state’s stature. This is one reason why state-based organizations have become a beacon for organization and promotion for rights holders and governing bodies. Together they are stronger, and the results have a positive ripple effect throughout local communities.

Sporting events can have a powerful impact on a region’s economy. Guests eat in restaurants, shop in stores, stay in hotels and tour the local attractions. Becoming a destination for a tournament can help a municipality come together to provide a unique and exciting experience for visitors while getting a chance to promote their local businesses. Being a destination where people come back year after year compounds those experiences and at times creates something so special the whole nation stops to watch.

Why join Sports Indiana?

In the Crossroads of America, Sports Indiana strives to do just that for its members and their communities. The organization works to bring tournament professionals together to learn about the dynamic field of sports event planning and grow sports tourism in Indiana. Founded in 2008, Sports Indiana started out with 15 members representing sports commissions and convention and visitors bureaus across Indiana with the simple idea that by building connections in the industry, members could recommend events to other communities that didn’t work out in their own back yard. In 2014, Sports Indiana’s board of directors voted to expand membership to rights holders and allied members. Currently they have 12 of those members representing event planners, tournament housing services, parks & recreation departments and 21 different communities throughout Indiana.

grand-park“Sports Indiana is a vibrant organization comprising event professionals from throughout the state who share a passion for sports and sports tourism,” said Arlene McDonald, event director for Indiana Swimming. “One of the most satisfying aspects of hosting events in Indianapolis and Indiana is the robust spirit of collaboration and support among leaders across all sports, guaranteeing that tourists have the best possible experience during their stay in the Hoosier State. Sports Indiana is the leader in building and perpetuating those invaluable partnerships.”

To foster these relationships between members, Sports Indiana hosts a number of professional development events during the year. These events span from topics like Sports Event Housing—which included a Q&A session with a panel of CVB, hotel, third party housing and event organizing representatives—to one based entirely on NCAA bids. Here, members meet with top collegiate athletic leaders who offer a firsthand look at the process of accepting bids and what they look for.

Sports Indiana is also able to conduct surveys to identify industry trends, which can then be used to draft new education sessions the following year. Sports Indiana also hosts networking events for its members in a number of different settings. During the formal educational settings, the organization sets aside time for members to mingle and foster new relationships. Bi-monthly board meetings also provide members an opportunity to meet their peers and discuss trends in the sports tourism industry. Other events are more casual, like the Member Meet-Ups, where individuals gather for lunch to discuss the challenges and successes of their operations in an open and inviting setting.

How will Sports Indiana help promote and support my events?

Members are treated to a plethora of other benefits from the moment they sign up, including access to Sports Indiana’s Members Only website, which offers contact lists, presentations from education sessions, appointment lists, and information on the tradeshow rebate offered to members. The organization features a digital distribution platform to send out members’ information in a monthly e-newsletter to 1,500 contacts, highlighting new members, promoting events and celebrating success in Indiana sports tourism. Sports Indiana also helps promote its members through its social media presence on Facebook and Twitter.

For those who need financial assistance in landing a tournament, Sports Indiana is there to lend a hand securing grants. As a fiduciary of funds for the Indiana Office of Tourism Development, the organization created the Grant Committee of Sports Indiana to review grant applications and award those dollars throughout the state. Since its inception in 2011, 94 grants have been awarded totaling $476,400 across the state of Indiana, supporting a diverse group of events including youth tournaments, adaptive sports, collegiate championships, and amateur events in 20 communities.

“The state of Indiana is fortunate to have an organization like Sports Indiana – advocating for sports tourism events on behalf of their members in every corner of the state,” said Don Flynn, VP business development, Game Day USA. “As a longtime travel baseball tournament host it was an easy decision for Game Day USA to become a Sports Indiana member to support their mission and to also support the CVB and sports commission members we do business with throughout Indiana. Event organizers should definitely check with Sports Indiana if looking for a great location for their next sporting event.”

As the sports tourism industry continues to grow, organizations like Sports Indiana are establishing themselves as valuable resources for promotion, networking, and education in the ever-changing landscape of tournament planning. Joining an organization like Sports Indiana can give planning professionals a leg up in this vast field and bring them together with other leaders in the industry. From the smallest t-ball tournament to the largest professional and collegiate games in the country, Sports Indiana is there to offer a helping hand to help leaders identify best practices, establish contacts, and secure victory.

Those interested in learning more about Sports Indiana can visit their membership web page at There prospective members will find the different membership categories, the organization’s bylaws, a list of membership benefits and a membership application. If you have questions regarding membership with Sports Indiana, or wish to submit a completed application, please send them to