If the National Quidditch Association ever decides to host a tournament in Salt Lake City, chances are good that the initial contact was made at the Travel, Events and Management Sports (TEAMS) Conference and Expo that wraps up its four-day Salt Palace event Thursday.
The quidditch group which plays a ground-based version of the sport played on brooms in the Harry Potter series joined other organizations seeking venues to host championships. Sports such as orienteering, roller hockey, thoroughbred racing, horseshoe pitching, broomball, beach rugby, dog agility tournaments and professional disc golf were represented inside the Salt Palace along with more traditional sports groups.
The idea behind the conference, sponsored by SportsTravel magazine and making its second visit to Salt Lake in its 16-year history, is to bring cities from all over the United States together with sports organizations looking to stage events to do business.
Mary Holmes, representing Missoula, Mont., said the event allows her to make good connections for organizations looking to host kayak, mountain bike or ski events.
"The best way to do that is to have face-to-face meetings with event organizers," she said.
Grabbing a sporting event or hosting a local race or tournament can mean major dollars for cities, states and private businesses.
In an interview in the latest SportsTravel magazine, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said sports events generate close to $6 billion annually for the economy. They also provide between $30 and $40 million per year in television and related media value and exposure to Utah.
Jeff Robbins, head of the Utah Sports Commission which had a prominent place inside the trade show, said having Salt Lake host the event is a huge plus.
"It is an opportunity to showcase what you have to a target audience," he said. "Events-rights holders are here. They get a firsthand experience to see the community and the assets and infrastructure you have."
Scott Beck, President and CEO of Visit Salt Lake, said many of the estimated 1,200 people attending the conference were visiting Utah Olympic venues and looking at other potential event-hosting sites. He said Salt Lake City's new soccer complex could turn out to be a major draw.
Tim Schneider, publisher and editor of SportsTravel magazine, said this is the largest event of its kind.
"The TEAMS conference is the place to go if you are an event organizer looking for cities to host your event," he said. "And cities who want to host more sporting events come here. This allows networking to occur with the results of events being placed in cities."
Sporting associations big and small set up meetings on long tables inside the Salt Palace. Discussions take place with cities who might want to host events.
The Expo portion featured dozens of state and city sport associations representing areas as diverse as Hawaii, Milwaukee, Oklahoma, Ohio, Florida and Las Vegas. Many national hotel chains were represented as was Delta Airlines.
"We're so much more than just Disneyland," said Monique Frankfort, who was representing Anaheim at the show. "We've got everything and anything, though skiing and snow events probably aren't up our alley."
Other companies sold items such as bags, shirts, caps and water bottles given to competitors. One sold medals.
"Most events give away a premium," said Crystal Rodriguez of California-based Bagmaster. "This seems like a perfect fit."
The event ends Thursday with some national sports travel awards being announced.