GATLINBURG, Tenn., March 17, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Rocky Top Sports World, a state-of-the-art, indoor and outdoor sports campus surrounded by the Great Smoky Mountains, is on pace to set a record for number of events in just its third year of operation. What makes this achievement even more impressive is that just a few months ago, the 86,000 square-foot indoor facility was a shelter that housed and fed thousands who had lost homes or been evacuated due to historic wildfires.
"It was a life changing experience for everyone here. The staff unselfishly united to fulfill needs and support relief efforts for thousands," said Lori Moore, General Manager of RTSW.
On November 28, 2016, fires tore through Gatlinburg. Hurricane-force winds whipped the flames in all directions, destroying homes and businesses. Without hesitation Moore and her team converted their facility into a beacon of hope.
"We love this community and were capable of helping, so we did what anyone in our position would do," Moore explained. "At the time, operating as a sports facility was not an option. We had exhausted fire fighters, evacuees, and others to shelter and feed."
Gatlinburg is now on the road to recovery. Rebuilding has begun and the city's core downtown tourist attractions are intact. Rocky Top Sports World is also back to being the premiere destination for family sports travel. "The City of Gatlinburg and Rocky Top Sports World are welcoming visitors back to the Smoky Mountains," said Moore.
In fact, Rocky Top is not only back to operating as a sports facility, but its seven artificial fields and indoor center are booked and on pace to host nearly twice the events in 2017 as they hosted in 2016. This is a testament to the great leadership at Rocky Top Sports World, but also to the power of the sports tourism marketplace.
According to the National Association of Sports Commission and the U. S. Travel Association, sports related travel and sports tourism are among the fastest growing segments of the travel industry. Rocky Top and other facilities like it exist to host tournaments and events that bring in travel sports teams from all types of amateur sports.
Rocky Top is one of many facilities managed by the Sports Facilities Management - a firm that specializes in operating community and sports tourism facilities. SFM Partner Dev Pathik explained that events booked at Rocky Top demonstrate the strength of the sports travel industry, but more importantly help to speed up the recovery in Gatlinburg and Sevier County. "The truth is," said Pathik, "Gatlinburg is an amazing destination that makes for the perfect 'tourna-cation'- a family vacation centered around a tournament."
"Every event that is booked here helps to aid our recovery," stated City Manager Cindy Ogle. "The downtown area and our attractions are in great shape. Rocky Top is playing an important role by helping us send the message that Gatlinburg and Sevier County are open for business and ready for a fantastic spring break and summer season. We are stronger as a community and grateful to those who are helping us by choosing Gatlinburg for their events, conventions, and vacations."
For in-person events booking, Rocky Top will be represented by General Manager Lori Moore at the National Association of Sports Commissions Annual Conference in Sacramento, California March 27-30.
Rocky Top Sports World is a state-of-the-art, indoor and outdoor sports campus located in Gatlinburg, TN, surrounded by the beautiful Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We've quickly become the destination for sports teams and youth sporting events and tournaments in the Southeast region.
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