Auburn kicks off $31,000 sports tourism study

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Scarborough plays Mt. Ararat in a girls’ hockey round-robin game in October 2013 at the Norway Savings Bank Arena in Auburn. The city has hired Arizona sports tourism consultants to help develop a plan to attract more events and more visitors.

AUBURN — Arizona consultants will visit Auburn next week to kick off a three-month sports tourism study.

Over three days, Huddle Up Group will tour facilities and hold a community meeting for public input from 8 to 9:45 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 20, at City Hall.

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Jason Paquin, the city’s sports tourism coordinator and general manager of the Norway Savings Bank Arena, said consultants will look at a wide variety of opportunities in the city and identify places to grow.

“The nice thing is we’re not just looking at those organized sporting events,” Paquin said. “We’re also taking a look at best uses for the river, the unorganized activities with our hiking trails and Mt. Apatite and all the outdoor activities you can possibly do in this area.”

The visit next week is the first of several. Funding for the $31,000 study was included in this year’s capital improvement plan.

Paquin said the city expects to have the study in hand early next year and has Huddle Up Group’s services for a year.

“Essentially, what they’re doing is assisting us in developing a strategic plan — around basically creating a sports tourism hub for this region and having Auburn at the center of that,” he said.

Huddle Up Group has worked with cities and organizations, including the Detroit Sports Commission, the Arlington Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Tulsa Sports Commission, according to its website.

In a news release, Mayor Jonathan LaBonte said part of growing the local economy means attracting outside spending. 

“What we lack in lobsters and lighthouses, the images that dominate Maine’s largest industry of tourism, we make up for with the potential of sports like skiing, hockey, basketball, soccer, baseball and others,” he said.

kskelton@sunjournal.com

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