AUBURN — The results of a sports tourism study commissioned by city officials in September will be presented to the City Council and public next week.

According to city officials, the study done by Arizona sports consulting firm Huddle Up Group lays out Auburn’s strengths and weaknesses as it hopes to become a regional destination for sports tourism. 

The results say Auburn is positioned “to grow not only the level of sports tourism in the city, but the level of tourism overall for the region.” Among the goals would be to host more regional tournaments and annual events for ice hockey, skiing, basketball, soccer and baseball. 

Along with city staff, the Huddle Up Group recently toured Auburn’s facilities and venues and conducted a number of interviews. Funding for the $31,000 study was included in this year’s capital improvement plan.

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.

“Through our extensive phone interviews, review of past research documents, conversations with your local event promoters, and our knowledge of the national marketplace, we believe there is room for the (city) to deliver additional overnight stays to the destination through sports and events,” the report states. 


City officials are hopeful that the findings will provide a path toward more activity. 

“This is an exciting step in developing Auburn as a sports tourism destination in this region,” said Jason Paquin, general manager of the Norway Savings Bank Arena, in a news release Thursday.

The sports market in Auburn was bolstered recently with the announcement that a new junior ice hockey team would begin playing in 2018 at Norway Savings Bank Arena. Along with the new team, a new food vendor has also signed a contract at the arena. 

City officials often tout Auburn’s recreational assets such as Lost Valley, its golf courses and many miles of trails. 

But while the tourism study says Auburn as a destination is ready for additional tourism — with adequate hotels and other offerings — it states the city also has weaknesses in tourism infrastructure, funding and venue challenges, despite having the ice arena and the Ingersoll indoor turf facility. 

Auburn doesn’t have significant indoor space for large basketball or volleyball tournaments, and doesn’t have an adequate “anchor” facility with multi-sport fields, the study says. 

It also states that there is “no formal tourism program in place to market the Lewiston-Auburn area,” and “no dedicated funding source for tourism promotion in the area.”

Even with the challenges, however, the consultants believe Auburn can grow its reputation within the market and ultimately produce more tourism dollars surrounding sports.

“In the opinion of the consultant team, that even as a small market player, the (city) has an opportunity to build an infrastructure that can drive more overnight stays to the area through sports and special events,” the report states. 

Paquin, who also serves as the city’s sports tourism coordinator, and representatives from Huddle Up Group will present the study results to the City Council during a workshop at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 8. 

The next day at 9 a.m., the same group will host an additional meeting for residents and stakeholders at Auburn Hall. 

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