Daily Record Business Writer
May 8, 2009 9:04 PM
With the launch of a new online directory detailing the state’s more than 600 sports facilities, officials say Maryland is finally “ready to play” as a destination for world-class sporting events.
“This is a $182 billion industry and is growing annually,” Terrance Hasseltine, the state’s sports marketing director, said at a press conference Friday at Camden Yards. “It’s time we go out for a bigger piece of that proverbial pie.”
Hasseltine was joined in the announcement by Cal Ripken Jr., whose Ripken Baseball operates the largest youth baseball complex in the state, and representatives from the Department of Business and Economic Development and the Maryland Stadium Authority.
“I’ve seen it in Aberdeen — we have kids come every summer from all 50 states and 14 or 15 countries,” said Ripken, referring to the Ripken World Series held for 16 national and international teams made up of 11- and 10-year-olds. “I’m ecstatic the state is being so proactive in this endeavor.”
Officials said the database is now the state’s one-stop-shop for those looking to bring a sports or entertainment event to the Northeast. Facilities on the Web site, MarylandSports.us, are searchable by location, size and other characteristics. In addition, the site has lodging data and contact information for the state’s 24 municipal convention and visitor’s bureau representatives.
Making the directory produce results is the next challenge. And whether it will live up to the nearly nine-month effort put in by Hasseltine, who traversed the state conducting interviews and doing research, remains to be seen.
So far the marketing and advertising effort to let the industry know about the new database consists of relying on media coverage, e-mail blasts from DBED over the next two weeks to contacts in the industry and word-of-mouth.
Ryan Schinman, president of New York-based Platinum Rye Entertainment, a global sports and entertainment marketing company, expressed doubt about those tactics.
Although it is a “great idea” as an informational tool, it can only garner so much media attention on its own, he said.
“Google search words aren’t going to do it by itself,” Schinman said. “They’ve got to let people know the site exists.”
While he added it was unrealistic for the state to have the same kind of advertising budget as it does for tourism overall, he said the spirit behind marketing Maryland should be no different than that behind marketing it as a sports destination.
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