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HHR Again Top Minor League Sports Market in America by Street & Smith

Published: Aug 17, 2011

Why this region has become the most consistent market in Top 10 ranking since 2005.

Winning takes talent, to repeat takes character.” - UCLA basketball coach John Wooden

WorkPlay, PA (Hershey Harrisburg Region) – The Hershey Harrisburg Regional Visitors Bureau (HHRVB) announced today that Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal (SBJ) has once again named Pennsylvania’s Hershey Harrisburg region the Top Minor League Sports Market in the country for 2011. The region has now become the only market out of approximately 300 to make Street and Smith’s biennial Top Ten list consistently since 2005.  According to the SBJ online article the top ranking was a result of a passionate fan base, tenured clubs and a stable economy. 

“In the words of Vince Lombardi, ‘Winning isn’t everything, but wanting to win is,’” said Mary Smith, president of HHRVB. “While we’re honored to be named two years in a row, we represent a region of athletes and sports fans that keep the spirit of winning close to their hearts. That spirit shows in the attendance numbers that were a big part of this ranking process.”

The Harrisburg Senators (AA Eastern League affiliate of the Washington Nationals) and Hershey Bears (AHL affiliate of the Washington Capitals) both set single-season attendance records last year, combining for over a half-million ticket sales for home games.

The Bears broke their single-season record for the eighth straight time, thanks in part to the allure of the $65 million Giant Center, which replaced Hersheypark Arena as the Bears’ long time home in 2002. The Bears have also won the Calder Cup three times since 2002 and have won it more than any other AHL team in history.

The Senators hope to keep breaking records as well, and rookie sensations such as Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg have given the team huge attendance boosts. Attendance has also been bolstered since the $40 million renovations made to Metro Bank Park between 2008 and 2010, and revenue from corporate partnerships has increased about 25 percent in this time as well.

The region is also home to City Islanders soccer, the Harrisburg Stampede indoor football team, Harrisburg Horizon basketball, Central Penn Piranha football, and several Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) State Championships each year.

“We are a minor league hotbed,” said Gregg Cook, sports marketing manager for HHRVB. “We have the success of those franchises from a business standpoint and respectability in the local market. But the fan and corporate support are also there and the facilities where they play are gorgeous.”

According to Cook, the minor league ranking also bolsters sales efforts to secure youth and tournament events for the region. Cook is able to allure event producers initially because of the quality venues where the hometown teams play.

“Our region has become a premier sports destination for both professional and youth competitions,” said Cook. “The combination of versatile venues and our central location in the Mid-Atlantic region makes us competitive with nearly any sports destination in the country.”

The variety of venues was crucial to the bureau securing the annual Pennsylvania’s Keystone State Summer Games (KSG) from 2011-2013 and the State Games of America (SGA) in 2013. Those are in addition to other tournaments and championships the region has already hosts, including the LPGA Futures Tour Pennsylvania Classic; U.S. Junior Nationals Girls Basketball Hershey Showcase; and the Triple Crown Baseball Father’s Day Classic.

The SBJ article questions if the first market to hold the title of Top Minor League Market twice can sustain the position as long as the Bears and Senators keep winning and fans keep going to the games.

“In response to that question, I think UCLA basketball coach John Wooden, noted for winning a record seven NCAA national championships in a row, said it best,” said Rick Dunlap, Director of PR Communications for HHRVB. “’Winning takes talent, to repeat takes character.’ It’s certainly the character of the region’s sports venues that make it an exciting place for sports.”

The bureau will soon launch a new Web site dedicated to sports, highlighting a baseball and soccer complex located on an island in the Susquehanna River and an events complex with one million square feet of covered sport and exhibit space that can accommodate up to 20 basketball or volleyball courts on a new SnapSports® ShockTower® indoor sports surface system. 

According to Dunlap, the other key attributes attracting event producers, athletes and their families to the region are affordability, accessibility, and family-friendly attractions. Those looking to produce a sporting event in the Hershey Harrisburg Region can contact Gregg Cook at Gregg@HersheyHarrisburg.org or 717-231-2990. 

Author: Rick Dunlap

Public Relations Director
Visit Hershey & Harrisburg
3211 North Front Street, Suite 301 A, Harrisburg, PA 17110