Visit Anaheim Partnership With Amateur Athletic Union Could Have Thousands Of Youth Playing In Town

By Art Marroquin, Orange County Register, March 14, 2016

ANAHEIM–Move over, Ducks and Angels. Youth sports tournaments may soon be on the rise here.

The city’s convention and tourism bureau is expected Monday to announce a partnership with the Amateur Athletic Union, the agency known for staging scores of amateur events including the Junior Olympic Games.

The deal is part of Sports Anaheim, a new initiative developed by Visit Anaheim to attract high-profile, national sporting events to Orange County. Last week, Sports Anaheim announced it snagged the 2017 U.S. national gymnastics finals for the Honda Center.

The Amateur Athletic Union, created in 1888, boasts about 700,000 athletes and supporters nationwide – including an estimated 80,500 members in California.

“Over the long term, I want to develop the Anaheim area and our West Coast participation, because most of our members come from California,” said Roger Goudy, president and CEO of the Amateur Athletic Union.

“We’re always asking teams from western states to play in our tournaments on the East Coast,” Goudy said. “It’s time we have some representation on the other side of the country, too.”

The nonprofit sports group signed a 30-year lease in 1994 with the Walt Disney World Resort to stage many of its national events at the Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., which also serves as the agency’s home base.

Last year, the organization’s Girls’ Junior National Volleyball Championship was the largest volleyball event in the world, attracting 23,000 athletes worldwide to Florida. Goudy said he envisions a similar event eventually being staged in Anaheim.

The Amateur Athletic Union will share office space with Visit Anaheim for the next five to 10 years at the Anaheim Convention Center – a contract is under negotiation.

Sporting events are the fastest growing segment of the tourism market, making for a $9 billion industry nationwide, said Jay Burress, Visit Anaheim’s president and CEO.

“I could see a lot of amateur basketball, volleyball, karate and surfing events coming into Orange County, based on the venues that are available to us now,” said Roy Edmondson, vice-president of sports development for Visit Anaheim. “This partnership will really expand our efforts to truly make this a sports-tourism destination.”