2022 is drawing to a close and while indoor venues will begin to heat up this winter, we wanted to take a look back on all the excitement from a year of sports in the Shores & Islands Ohio. The communities continue to embrace and support the efforts of our team and the success of each facility is a testament to the #LakeErieLove our residents and visitors alike have for the destination. Let’s take a dive into the what makes our destination America’s Sports and Family Fun Capital.
The many facilities across the destination, all featuring their own unique amenities, helped attract over 57,000 athletes to the destination for their premier events. These athletes and their travel parties spent over $66 million during their event stays, exceeding 130,000 room nights. While Sports Force Parks and the Cedar Point Sports Center account for a significant number of those figures, there are many large events that happened elsewhere in the destination.
Our Lake Erie islands create a relaxing environment to compete in, hosting some of their own style of events. Perfect example is Kelleys Island as the community hosted events this past summer such as the Greasy Pole Competition, as well as the Razzles Kelleys Island Volleyball Tournament. The Kelleys Islands Chamber of Commerce partners with Razzles to host an annual grass volleyball tournament that brings in dozens of coed adult teams for a weekend of bumps, sets, and spikes on the island. The world-famous Greasy Pole Competition attracted several hundred participants while spectators packed the marina and its surrounding storefronts. After a few hours (and plenty of fresh layers of grease) the winner was crowned by snatching the flag from the end of the greasy pole.
Put-in-Bay hosts the annual PIB Road Race Reunion, keeping the motor racing traditions alive on the island. The Road Race Reunion in late-September welcomes vintage sports car collectors and racing drivers of several different vehicle classes, offering the chance to tour the original Road Course, as well as complete racing and exhibition laps on the runways at Put-in-Bay Airport. The Road Race Reunion is one of Put-in-Bay’s most popular events annually, with visitors coming in from across the country to see these well-tuned retro cars zip through the island. Another sporting event that is becoming an annual event is the Put-in-Bay Soccer Cup. This event has continued to hold its annual futbol festival for over a decade, with mens’, womens’ and coed divisions in addition to different skill brackets making sure that everyone can enjoy their own soccer and island experience.
Sports Force Parks wrapped up their season early in November with the Ohio Athletic Committee Football State Championship, hosting 40 teams from across the state with the hopes of winning a state championship. Sports Force Parks held nearly 50 tournaments this past year including baseball, softball, soccer, lacrosse, and football. In addition to hosting tournaments, the Sandusky Bay Ice Haulers of the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League called Sports Force Parks home. Each summer, the Ice Haulers compete with teams in 11 other cities across Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio. New this summer was the 2022 National Amateur Baseball Federation (NABF) College World Series that attracted some of the top collegiate team from across the country to the venue. In early September, the Special Olympics State Softball Tournament was hosted at Sports Force Parks. Nearly 250 athletes with intellectual disabilities competed in softball games and skill competitions throughout the weekend in September.
Cedar Point Sports Center operates year-round, welcoming all sports inside of its world-class facilities. From wrestling and martial arts to gymnastics and cheer competitions to basketball and volleyball, the floors of Cedar Point Sports Center were rarely vacant and saw nearly 50 tournaments alone under its own roof including the Great Lakes Crossover, a NCAA Division III volleyball tournament, in partnership with Heidelberg University This event brought 23 teams from eight states, showing the range of competitive levels that can be hosted by Cedar Point Sports Center.
IRONMAN brought the Ohio 70.3 Triathlon to Downtown Sandusky in July, bringing 1,500 triathletes from dozens of states and multiple countries. Shores & Islands Ohio partnered with the City of Sandusky to engage the surrounding communities for this event, culminating in a swim through the Sandusky Bay, a bicycle ride through Sandusky County, and the 13.1 mile run through the streets of Downtown Sandusky. The streets of Sandusky were lined with locals and travel parties alike! Hundreds of volunteers assisted at multiple stations to make the event a success in addition to the families and friends of each triathlete making sure their athletes felt their support!
One of the biggest sport attractions of our region, Lake Erie, is always an ideal spot to host a sporting event. The lake offers several natural venues for different water sports. The open water provides a great setting for power boating and sailing events such as the ILYA Annual Championship Regatta. Several bass and walleye fishing tournaments were hosted this past year, including the Major League Fishing High School & Abu Garcia College Tours, and National Professional Fishing League.
The fun doesn’t stop when the weather changes at Shores & Islands Ohio and there are already more scheduled sporting events for 2023. Head to our Sporting Events page to see everything that’s going on across the destination! Everyone gets to play at America’s Sports & Family Fun Capital®!