Maryland Sports Youth and Amateur Sports Grant & Michael Erin Busch Fund Distributes $1 Million to Sport Tourism Events Statewide for 2022 Fiscal Year

FY 2023 Applications Open for sport tourism events happening after July 1st

Wrestlers grapple during MAWA Wrestling Championships in Wicomico County, Maryland

(BALTIMORE, MARYLAND)  –  The Maryland Sports Commission, through the Maryland Sports Youth and Amateur Sports Grant & Michael Erin Busch Fund, distributed more than $1 million in grants to over 60 youth and amateur sport tourism events throughout the State of Maryland for Fiscal Year 2022.  The State of Maryland operates on a Fiscal Year calendar which runs from July 1st through June 30, meaning the grant funding was awarded to events which happened/ will happen between July 2021 and June 30th of this year.   

“It’s because of this grant that many of our local partners at the DMO (Destination Marketing Organization), CVB (Convention and Visitors Bureaus), and Recreation and Parks-level are able to attract and retain sport tourism events which have an incredible economic impact in their respective communities and regions,” said Terry Hasseltine, Executive Director of the Maryland Sports Commission, adding that Maryland Sports opened the application pool for FY 2023 events (July 1, 2022 – June 30, 2023) earlier this week. 

“The impact of the YASG & Busch Fund are allowing us to host over 900 teams in events in the state of Maryland through this summer,” said Krystin Porcella of Top of the Bay Sports, located in Harford County.  Top of the Bay Sports is a Maryland’s Own Events Rights Holder hosting numerous events in the State throughout the calendar year. 

Competitors fight for the draw during a Top of the Bay Sports Event

“The grant enables us the opportunity to bring back elite runners to the annual Baltimore Running Festival…. (putting) a national – and international – spotlight on the State of Maryland and it’s marquee endurance event,” said Lee Corrigan of Maryland-based Corrigan Sports Enterprises (CSE), an Event Rights Holder based in Elkridge Maryland.  CSE hosts a number of local – and national – events including the Under Armour All America lacrosse tournament, and the Bay Bridge Run, which returned to Anne Arundel and Queen Anne’s counties in October of 2021.  

“For smaller destinations, we are limited in the ability to attract new events. In partnership with Maryland Sports, not only were we able to attract new events, we are able to bring them back for consecutive year(s),” said Eric Teisch, Sales and Membership Director for Visit Howard County, a TEAM Maryland DMO member.  “This type of awareness led to an increase in requests for more information about Howard County and the amenities we have available.”

Fourteen different jurisdictions in Maryland, including Baltimore City and Ocean City, received funding through the grant to assist (retroactively) and help offset the operating costs necessary to execute major sport tourism events, games, matches, showcases and tournaments.  Sporting events funded include everything from youth soccer and softball tournaments, to high school lacrosse showcases, high school All Star basketball and football games, endurance sports, and cycling, as well as the Major League Quidditch Championships in Howard County last summer.

The Major League Quidditch National Championship returned to Howard County for the second consecutive year

“In past years with the Grant, we were limited as to how money could be allocated.  With the addition of the Michael Erin Busch Fund to the Grant, there is more flexibility in how money can be disbursed to organizations like the Next Collegiate League Crown Classic, which aims to grow the sport of lacrosse at local Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), and MLS Next in Montgomery County, a program which focuses on growing youth soccer in the United States in Canada, currently operating and playing at the Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds,” Hasseltine said.

The inclusion of late Maryland House Speaker Michael Erin Busch’s name to the fund was by no means an accident.  Delegate Maggie McIntosh, a longtime friend and colleague of Speaker Busch, added an amendment to include the Speaker’s name to the legislation in committee hearings in 2019.  Busch, a highly recruited Blue Chip Athlete in high school and collegiate football player, dedicated his life to investing in youth and amateur sports, especially in his hometown of Annapolis in Anne Arundel County.   

Senator Cory McCray of Baltimore City, who co-sponsored the legislation in the Senate, shares the same sentiment as the late Speaker when it comes to supporting youth and amateur sports, “This funding would not only support state progress and increase appeal, but it would help our young people have access to sports as an outlet, and path to follow for their future. We can give more children a sense of purpose and connection if adequate funding is provided to open these doors and keep them safe while doing so. There are many people who avoid visiting or moving into our beautiful state, because they are under the impression that we do not have much to offer, especially for the development of our youth. This is not the case, and funding of this nature negates the notion that we do not enrich and empower our youth.”

The Maryland Sports Commission, a division of the Maryland Stadium Authority, has provided grant funding in the past, however, a permanent funding source was defined in 2020 and was approved by state lawmakers in 2021.  Hasseltine hopes Maryland Sports will remain competitive against other states and destinations when it comes to securing and attracting large-scale sport tourism events which have a positive impact on communities across the state.  

In addition to providing money to help offset the execution of sport tourism and other major sporting events, the Grant allows Maryland Sports & TEAM Maryland to attend various industry conferences around the country in an attempt to secure new events to the State, and to continue the operation of the Maryland Sports Spelling Bee, a regional qualifier for the perennial Scripps National Spelling Bee at National Harbor in Prince George’s County. 

For more information on the Maryland Sports Youth and Amateur Sports Grant & Michael Erin Busch Fund, visit: http://mdsporttourism.com/

Competitors in the 2021 Wayne K. Curry Prince George’s County International Junior Tennis Championships pose with their trophies

What They’re Saying:

“Stevenson University partnered with USA Volleyball to host the Men’s Collegiate Beach Volleyball Tournament on campus in September 2021. This tournament provided a groundwork to expand men’s volleyball programs at the collegiate level and worked to create a network for USA Volleyball recruiting. The funds from this grant significantly impacted the success of this event by providing hospitality to the teams traveling to our campus and guests of the university. Additionally, it helped covered many costs associated with this event that allowed us to bring a high level of professionalism and excitement to this event. Additionally, the funds provided allowed Stevenson University to be able to continue this partnership with USA Volleyball and will allow us to continue to grow and expand this program for the next several years.”

Brett Adams, Stevenson University Athletic Director, USA Volleyball Men’s Collegiate Beach Challenge

“For eight consecutive years, JTCC has hosted this major international junior tournament, bringing hundreds of the finest male and female Under-18 international tennis juniors to College Park, MD. In 2021, the ITF event was held August 21-28 and is one of only three ITF Grade 1 Junior tournaments held in North America. The 2021 event drew 202 players, and over 110 additional visitors, including player coaches, family and college coaches. The YASG and Busch Fund supported the successful delivery of this event and helped offset expenses including balls, court officials, athletic trainers, tournament fees, food, trophies and transportation.”

Mike Flynn, 2021 Wayne K. Curry Prince George’s County International Junior Tennis Championships

“Elite Tournaments would like to extend a big THANK YOU to the Maryland Sports Commission and the Maryland Sports Youth and Amateur Sports Grant & Michael Erin Busch Fund for their impact on our 2021 – 2022 event series. This funding has not only directly supported events that are hosted in the state of Maryland, but has also supported the clients we represent and trust us in the management of their events.”

Elle Marks, Elite Tournaments

“The Youth and Amateur Sports Grant has allowed us not only to bring new events to our area, but has also allowed us to take some of our long standing events to the next level.  This grant has given us the opportunity to not only showcase our elite quality facilities, but also highlight everything the Eastern Shore has to offer through opening ceremonies and other various off the field activities.”

Cole Lacey, Wicomico County Recreation, Parks & Tourism (a TEAM Maryland Partner); MAASA

###

About Maryland Sports Commission:

Our mission is to enhance Maryland’s economy, image and quality of life through the attraction, promotion, retention and development of regional, national and international sporting events.

The Youth and Amateur Sports Grand and Michael Erin Busch Fund allows Maryland Sports to be more responsive, effective and efficient within the sport tourism and sports event industry for Maryland’s betterment.

Youth and Amateur Sports takes Center Stage at Maryland Tourism & Travel Summit

40th Edition of Conference features All-Star Sport Tourism Panel

From left to right: Kevin Smith, Matt Libber, Terry Hasseltine, Neelay Bhatt, Al Kidd, Kris Smith at the 2021 Maryland Tourism and Travel Summit at Maryland Live! Event Center at Arundel Mills

(HANOVER, Maryland) — The 40th anniversary of the Maryland Tourism and Travel Summit was “One for the books!” declared Ruth Toomey, Executive Director of the Maryland Tourism Coalition. The MTC operates the perennial celebration of hospitality and tourism in the state. Representatives and sponsors from across Maryland gathered in Hanover inside the state-of-the-art Event Center at Maryland Live! Casino for a three-day summit, November 8th through 10th, to celebrate Destination Marketing Organizations, Convention and Visitor Bureaus, hotel operators, restaurateurs, and other organizations that work closely with, or work to enhance, the tourism industry across Maryland. The summit included an opening ceremony at Laurel Race Park and was hosted by TEAM Maryland partner Visit Annapolis & Anne Arundel County.

“It’s always great meeting new people and getting to have one-on-one time with the speakers,” said Toomey, who planned the event, and echoed nearly all of the attendees – many of whom hadn’t seen one another in-person since the 2019 MTTS at Rocky Gap Resort in Allegany County. “While tourism numbers are up, we are not (fully) recovered. We will have a long road ahead of us,” said Toomey, who took home the “2021 Tourism Person of the Year” honor during the event’s closing ceremonies.

Ruth Toomey (second from right) named 2021 “Tourism Person of the Year”

The Maryland Sports Commission, which has a longstanding partnership with the MTC – and is a multi-year sponsor of the summit – hosted this year’s main panel discussion on Tuesday afternoon. The topic focused on youth and amatuer sport tourism and the positive impact this particular sector of the industry has on local communities and the state as a whole.

Youth and amateur sports continue to prove itself as a near ‘recession-proof’ section of the tourism market,” said Terry Hasseltine, Executive Director of the Maryland Sports Commission. Hasseltine, who admits having serious concerns about the impact that COVID closures and cancellations would have on the industry beginning in early 2020, said that he saw community members working with local governments and event organizers to find ways to make sports happen during the pandemic, “Obviously we were impacted like every other sector of the tourism and hospitality industry. But one of the first things we saw come back online was amateur and professional sports. We saw more people going outside and participating in active, outdoor sports and Event Rights Holders took notice of this and began looking for ways to return to competition spaces in a safe and socially responsible manner.”

Continue reading

Our New Normal: How Maryland Sports and TEAM Maryland Partners are Adjusting during COVID-19

Photo courtesy of Tiffany Ahalt, Visit Hagerstown

“Big challenges are managing work and the online schooling for my daughter….  Trying to set aside time for both while still being productive and getting everything accomplished.”

– Kelly Rados, Worcester County Recreation and Parks

Could any of us have imagined, one year ago, that we would be in the position that we are today? For Events Rights Holders, sport tourism representatives and DMO’s across the state of Maryland, this time of year is usually one of detailed planning and excitedly preparing for what has become the busiest time of the year for our respective organizations. The familiar stresses of hosting large scale sporting events would be a welcomed anxiety as all of us now are trying to define our “New Normal” in the midst of a global pandemic.

Recently, we reached out to a number of our TEAM Maryland partners to get their thoughts on a range of topics. We discussed everything from their new daily rituals to the shows they’re watching, their thoughts on navigating these unprecedented times and what they think the sport tourism industry will look like post COVID-19:

Eric Teisch, Visit Howard County

Are there any challenges you’re facing with the work-life balance? How are you adjusting?

I have had jobs previously that did not value work-life balance. That is one of the reasons I ended up in the tourism industry. Work-life balance has never been put to test more than it is now. My wife is a Special Education teacher in Montgomery County and we have three kids under the age of 6, including a 5 month old. It certainly has been challenging for us both to keep up with work on the computer, while helping our 6 year old on the computer for his school work, a baby who runs by her own schedule and a 3 year old who doesn’t have a care in the world but (still) wants someone to pay attention to him. To best adjust for this, we have really been sticking to creating a school schedule each day. My wife and I build in our own time for when we have meetings and then we schedule lunch, recess, and we go for an afternoon walk at the end of the day to decompress and get fresh air. Not sure what we would do if this was during winter and we couldn’t go outside. Although we have a schedule down, it is still stressful depending on what type of day the kids are having. The saving grace is that they are still young to understand what is going on and more importantly, we are altogether and healthy.

What are some of the challenges you foresee moving forward for the industry even after we start getting back to normal? What are you doing to prepare?

The biggest challenge will be money. Clearly with the economy and the astronomical amount of lost jobs, youth sports are going to decrease in participation. The challenge from a destination perspective is that the Right Holders are going to value their bid fees even more than before to survive. However, destinations are planning for their budgets to be decreased by at least 50% for the upcoming fiscal year. For a smaller destination like ours, who can barely bid on events as it is, it will be practically impossible for at least the first year back. To prepare, I have maintained communication with our Recreation and Parks team and I believe we need to dig deep into the grassroots. We have great fields for lacrosse and I believe those tournaments that can still bring teams in, including the high school showcases, will get our name out there and will hopefully bring the sports tourism industry back faster than anticipated.

Is there anything you’re doing during the quarantine that you didn’t do before or something you hope to continue to do once it ends?

My family goes on walks everyday. I would like to continue that after everything ends as well. Another thing is really paying attention to how my kids are learning. Although it has been forced on us, I am thankful that I get the opportunity to see my oldest son in a learning about the environment and that his younger brother is interested in what he is doing as he will be getting ready for preschool as well. I have also used the weekends to catch up on some sleep. Normally we run around on the weekends with birthday parties or sports but now my wife and I have time to take turns to recharge. This has actually made the beginning of the week more enjoyable as we are well rested. Lastly, I have been picking one day of the week to work with my kids on their sports skills. My oldest was due to begin lacrosse for the first time and my middle child was going to take an intro to sports class. I want to keep them as active as I can and make sure they do not lose the love of sports like I have.

What shows are you watching (TV/ Streaming, Movies, Documentaries)

My wife watched the Tiger King so I caught most of it. Personally, I don’t understand the excitement/craze over it. Felt it was a waste of my time. We also started watching the Ozark. I took interest in the Aaron Hernandez documentary on Netflix. I went to UConn at the same time his brother was there and knew a majority of the story. That is really about it… My wife and I are usually exhausted at the end of the day and try to go to bed early as we are bound to be woken up in the middle of the night.

Kelly Rados, Worcester County Recreation and Parks

How has your day changed from normal operations? 

We are closed to the public so I’ve been working from home for parts of the week and going in other parts of the week. 

What are some of the strategies you’re using to adjust to your new schedule/ working conditions? 

Even if I’m working from home, I still get up early, get dressed and begin my day as if I was in the office. I like schedules and routines so this seems to help.  I also have daily conference calls with our entire staff, it helps with communication, and keeps spirits up.

What are/ are there any challenges you’re facing with the work-life balance? How are you adjusting? 

Big challenges are managing work and the online schooling for my daughter.  Trying to set aside time for both while still being productive and getting everything accomplished.  Still adjusting and trying to find our routine.

What are some of the challenges you foresee moving forward for the industry even after we start getting back to normal? What are you doing to prepare? 

I’m worried about different event holders still existing after this is over. I know there have been layoffs and I would hate to see companies fold after this is over.  We have started to brainstorm internally about what homegrown events we can come up with.

What are you doing to break the monotony? 

I coach a youth travel softball team.  Each day I try to check in with another family to see how that individual player is doing and their family in general. Sometimes it’s through texting, other times my daughter and I will Facetime with a player.  This helps to break up the days, and gives us the social connection that we are missing. The families feel appreciate that I’m reaching out so that’s always a plus.

Have you taken up any new hobbies/ activities/ cooking? If so, what are they and do you have any to share (especially recipes!!) 

I have definitely been cooking a lot more, taking more time in preparing dinners and meal prepping for the week. 

What books are you reading?

I just finished Sunburn by Laura Lippman, I need more books to read so I’m open for suggestions!

Is there anything you’re doing during the quarantine that you didn’t do before or something you hope to continue to do once it ends?

I’m taking more walks and bike rides in my neighborhood. Usually I feel too busy to do this but it has helped break up the day and/or give myself a mental break.  I’ve been starting some days with a walk, my daughter has joined me which helps get some energy out before her school work. Afternoon and evening bike rides have helped me wind down after my day. I want to continue these after the quarantine, and make time, instead of excuses that I’m too busy.

Tiffany Ahalt, Visit Hagerstown and Washington County

What are some of the trade websites/ publications you are following?

Sports ETA

What are/ are there any. challenges you’re facing with the work-life balance? How are you adjusting?

I recently began my role at the CVB so there is a lag with getting to meet partners and colleagues face to face, everything is done via phone and email. Also, I am a people person, a Type-A Personality for sure. It is difficult to experience such limited contact.

What are some of the challenges you foresee moving forward for the industry even after we start getting back to normal? What are you doing to prepare?

We will need to restructure our planning, marketing and sales strategies. Sponsorships will be down, there will be new guidelines and restrictions from the CDC and local health departments.

What is your daily routine?

Wake up early, check my kids leaning schedule (online), make LOTS of coffee, check email, work, lunch, work, hike, work, dinner. We live close to the C&O Canal in Frederick County so we love to take in the beauty and quality of the recreational experience. In the evenings, we often enjoy a fire in the backyard.

Have you taken up any new hobbies?

Purchased an Instant Pot, feeling like a short order cook. I have two growing boys that LOVE to eat.

Is there anything you’re doing during the quarantine that you didn’t do before or something you hope to continue once it ends?

This has been a great opportunity to teach and remind my kids about wants versus needs. Most important, there is a reason why I never wanted to homeschool my children. As a Rotarian, service to my community is important. My family recently adopted an elderly couple who is not about to go out for groceries or medicine because of COVID-19. We deliver groceries to them twice a month, send notes and call them.

Cole Lacey, Wicomico Recreation, Parks & Tourism

What are some of the trade websites/ publications you are following to stay up to date?

Attending and listening to just about every webinar that is being promoted through the Sports ETA website.

How has your day changed from normal operations?

Currently, working from home and focusing on relationships with our current network. I am constantly checking in with organizers to see how they are handling and making out through these tough times.

What are some of the strategies you’re using to adjust to your new schedule/ working conditions?

Set realistic goals for each day knowing I may be distracted by my kids.

Are you keeping in contact with other members of the sport tourism industry… What are you hearing from them?

I feel like I am keeping in contact with more members and more frequently with other members in the sport tourism industry. I think there is a lot to learn from different destinations all across the country.

What are you doing to break the monotony?

Getting outside as much as possible. Getting back to simpler activities, like fishing.

What shows are you watching (TV/streaming, Movies, Documentaries) ?

I actually believe that I have been watching less TV. Not having sports on TV has forced me to find other activities to do.

Marjorie Hampson, Baltimore County Tourism

How has your day changed from normal operations?

My day has gone from promoting Baltimore County attractions and events through e-newsletters, Facebook and the tourism website to assisting local businesses find financial support during this pandemic (BaCo tourism is part of economic and workforce development). This time of year, I would be promoting our steeplechase races, the Guinness Pub Run, and updating next year’s visitors guide. The tourism e-newsletter this month contained beneficial resources for small businesses, a pitch to support local restaurants with carryout orders, and a list of virtual tours for families to take right from their sofas. The tourism Facebook page has turned into a plethora of Baltimore County restaurants listing their menus for daily take-out.

How do you think/ Do you think this pandemic will change the way we do sport tourism in the future?

This is totally my opinion – when the ban is eventually lifted and normalcy begins to return, I foresee folks NOT clamoring to events, malls, stadiums, attractions, etc.  Perhaps the fact that folks may be hesitant to engage in socializing again may deter tourism/travel efforts. Tourism in general, including sports tourism, will need to strategize to regain the public’s trust that air flights are safe, large gatherings at stadiums are safe, festivals and malls are safe. This will be a huge undertaking for all of us in the tourism industry. Am I alone in this thought? Maryland Office of Tourism and Film is organizing business heads and association directors to tackle this approaching dilemma.

What shows are you watching (TV/ Streaming, Movies, Documentaries)

My husband and I are watching tons of Netflix at night and on the weekends. Of course, we finished Tiger King (and BTW, Carole Baskin is guilty as sin!) Sneaky Pete was good – only wish there was another season to see if Pete and Julia get together! We watched a couple of Tom Segura’s comedy specials – have seen all of Sebastian Maniscalco’s – highly recommend both of these comedians on Netflix. We have turned into TV aficionados!

Elizabeth Joyner, Visit Annapolis & Anne Arundel County

What are some of the trade websites/ publications you are following to stay up to date?

MPI, PCMA, Sports ETA, STR Report

How do you think/ Do you think this pandemic will change the way we do sport tourism in the future?

If our new “normal” is a 6-foot distance requirement, it is going to change the way everything is done.

What is your daily routine?

Workout, shower/dress for the day, email catch-up, making my toddler breakfast, planning my day with my husband to juggle taking care of a toddler and both of us working full time… We say, “Happy Groundhogs Day” to each other every morning, to lighten the mood.

What are you doing to break the monotony?

Taking this time to enjoy my fourteen-month old, she is full of entertainment.

Have you taken up any new hobbies/ activities/ cooking?

Re-learning how to Rollerblade! My neighborhood just got repaved and it’s fairly flat! My parents mailed me my Rollerblades (circa 2000) and they are still in great shape!

Graham Whaples, Maryland Sports

How has your day changed from normal operations? 

We are a very schedule-oriented family. My wife wakes up early because she teaches at a local high school. I’d usually feed my son breakfast and get him off to school before my commute to the office in Baltimore. While it’s been nice not to rush around in the morning (or the evening before making lunches for the next day) it is tough juggling teleworking with my son’s school work now and my wife tele-teaching. Some days I take on the brunt of his classwork, sometimes she does. Like it has been for everyone, it’s quite an adjustment.

What are some of the challenges you foresee moving forward for the industry even after we start getting back to normal? What are you doing to prepare?

I think the tourism industry will be an area that bounces back quickly once things reopen. I think people are itching to get back out there, though maybe not in the same capacity as before. Obviously, we’re dealing with historic unemployment nationally, furloughs, job insecurity etc. I often wonder what restrictions will remain in place specifically for sports if social distancing orders remain in place. What effect will that have on the sport tourism industry, that’s an issue that all of us will have to look at closely and determine where/ how we can address that shortfall. There are a lot of unknowns out there but we’re continuing to do our part to showcase the state of Maryland and remind folks that we’ll be here for them when they’re ready to return to business.

What shows are you watching (TV/ Streaming, Movies, Documentaries)?

Better Call Saul, Bob’s Burgers, Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. Recently started Ozark on Netflix. McMillions, the HBO documentary about the McDonald’s Monopoly scam in the early 2000s. And, of course, Tiger King!

What books are you reading?

With the Anne Arundel County Library closed, my reading has gone way down except when it comes to reading with my son and the books provided on Google Slides from the school system. Right before the closures, I had just finished The Handmaid’s Tale and knocked out the sequel, The Testaments in the first few days of quarantine. Since then, my reading consists of the local newspapers and the few magazine subscriptions we have (National Geographic, Time and All Recipes). I did just get The Water Dancer in the mail so I’m excited to start that.

###

About Maryland Sports:

The mission of Maryland’s Sports Commission is to enhance Maryland’s economy, image and quality of life through the attraction, promotion, retention and development of regional, national and international sporting events.

About TEAM Maryland:

TEAM Maryland is a statewide initiative designed to collectively market Maryland to the entire sports industry by creating a synergistic approach to the way we market ALL of Maryland as a sports destination.