tourism & city branding
Frisco, Texas, USA: From an unpretentious city to the Mecca of Sports
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Combining a genuine conviction in the benefits of sports with efficient management, a hands-on approach to service, and responsiveness in facing the pandemic, Frisco, Texas, deserves its reputation as a sport destination.
Back at the turn of the 21st century, the City of Frisco, Texas, was a sleepy town on the northern outskirts of Dallas. The farming community of 35,000 had more cows than people. The major artery, the Dallas North Tollway, stopped just short of its border. But in just 20 years, Frisco has become one of the fastest growing US cities and one of the leading sports destinations. Nothing seems to stop the city’s growth, not even the COVID-19 pandemic. While the sports sector has suffered greatly from the health crisis, Frisco has found ways to minimise the negative impact and has even experienced successful sport tourism. So, what are Frisco’s secrets to success? How did this city of 200,000 inhabitants become a national reference in sport tourism and is now considered the Mecca of sports? And how has the city managed and coped with the COVID-19 pandemic?
The secrets of Frisco’s sports tourism success
One of the secrets to Frisco’s success is the respect for sports held by the city leaders, residents, and various community groups. Because of this support, Visit Frisco, the official Destination Marketing Organisation for the City of Frisco, has a “seat at the table” to influence and assist with true destination management. Moreover, Visit Frisco has a hands-on servicing approach when hosting events. To mention only two, Frisco’s sports events that attracted the most visitors include:
• NCAA Division I Football Championship Series. Frisco has hosted the event for the past 11 years with an agreement to continue through at least 2027. The average annual economic impact of the event is around $9 million.
• Conference USA Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships. Frisco has hosted the event for the past four years and has an eye on extending. The average annual economic impact of the event is $4 million. While Frisco is located within in a major market with incredible airlift, the spirit of the community has maintained that ‘close-knit/ can-do’ attitude of a small town. Finally, Visit Frisco embraces a ‘regional approach’ to sports tourism and actively collaborates with neighbouring destinations to maximise the potential of the Dallas-Fort Worth region.
Led by Visit Frisco, the City’s pillars for sport tourism are threefold:
1. Establishing Frisco as a desirable destination to host sporting events.
2. Building and maintaining successful
3. sports partnerships. Recognition of sport tourism as an economic development strategy.
Sports City USA: an initiative launched to tell the sports story of Frisco
Along with the five professional sports teams that call the city home, Frisco also features multiple world-class athletic facilities, prestigious medical and sports rehabilitation centres, national and international athletic organisations and an emerging eSports community. All these positives contribute to Frisco being known as Sports City USA. Since its launch, Sports City USA has evolved into more of a brand, or a tagline, lending a ‘sense of community’ for the city. Not only does Visit Frisco actively promote this message, but city leaders and sports partners such as Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys, and PGA of America executives regularly refer to Frisco as Sports City USA.
Turning the COVID-19 pandemic into an opportunity
From the beginning, Visit Frisco saw the pandemic as an opportunity to assist its sports venues and operators by being a hub of information. Visit Frisco shared the latest news on current restrictions and regulations and provided a platform for partners to share best practices and resources for hosting events safely. Visit Frisco later spearheaded the city’s initiative for venues and hotels to attain the Global Biorisk Advisory Council’s STAR Accreditation to help travellers feel safe about returning to the city.
As restrictions in Texas relaxed, Frisco’s venues were prepared to safely host events, which allowed the City to capitalise on the need to quickly relocate events from other areas of the country. Visit Frisco assisted in the relocation of three youth hockey events, one international world championship hockey tournament, a college football bowl game and a national collegiate basketball tournament.
What more you should know about Frisco’s sport tourism strategy:
SNEAK PEEK OF THE NATIONAL SOCCER HALL OF FAME (NSHOF)
NSHOF is an interactive and immersive experience that can be enjoyed by die-hard and casual soccer fans alike. It blends the traditional displays of memorabilia and the story of soccer with interactive, hands-on, game-like experiences. The NSHOF equally represents and includes Men’s and Women’s teams and notable players and is the home of the four US Women’s FIFA World Cup Trophies. NSHOF plays a crucial role in Frisco and the DallasFort Worth region’s bid to host the 2026 World Cup. Finally, while it still needs to be confirmed, NSHOF will host 2020 Tokyo Olympics Watch Parties for soccer matches.
FRISCO TO BECOME THE “MODERN HOME OF AMERICAN GOLF”
Opening summer 2022, PGA Frisco, PGA of America’s new headquarters, will be the preeminent home for golf in the U.S. The 600-acre project will feature two championship courses, a short course, practice areas and clubhouse. An adjacent 529-room Omni resort with 12,000 m2. conference centre will open in 2023. “With these world class courses as the centerpiece, PGA Frisco will become the modern home of American golf”, according to PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh. This unprecedented development will be a premier destination for golf enthusiasts, families, and business travellers alike.