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State sports authority eyes Central Oregon region for events

    Central Oregon already has the reputation of being a training ground for many top athletes and is admired for the quality of its golf courses, cycling and winter recreation.

    If the Portland-based Oregon Sports Authority has its way, the region will become the official home for more sporting events — and the economy will be the big winner, according to its representatives.

    The nonprofit organization, which has the mission of promoting the state as a world-class sports destination, chose the region for its first chapter outside of Portland since starting 15 years ago.

    The organization will officially launch its Central Oregon chapter at a luncheon Tuesday at The Riverhouse Convention Center.

    “We thought the area was just rich with sports opportunities, including golf courses and winter sports,” said Drew Mahalic, CEO of the Oregon Sports Authority. “Central Oregon may be the finest winter venue in the country for a number of sports.”

    The organization has the ear of several governing sports bodies and has landed such major events for Portland as the NCAA Basketball Tournament, the U.S. Figure Skating Championships and Women’s World Cup Soccer, according to a news release.

    In Central Oregon, it could land more PGA golf tournaments and wintertime events at Mt. Bachelor ski area, Mahalic said.

    The region could gain anywhere from $100,000 up to $1 million in tourism-related spending from sports events, Mahalic said.

    Athletes who are preparing for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, could use Mt. Bachelor as a training ground, according to Mahalic. And more golf tournaments, like the Jeld-Wen Tradition that Sunriver Resort hosted in August, could be headed Central Oregon’s way, he said.

    Already, the organization has announced two events that it will bring to Central Oregon in 2008.

    Mt. Bachelor will host the U.S.A. Winter Triathlon National Championships on Feb. 9. The event, which includes a mix of cross-country skiing, cross-country mountain biking and running on snow, was previously held in the Rocky Mountains, Mahalic said.

    Additionally, the Deschutes County Fair & Expo Center in Redmond will be the host site for the American Bicycle Association BMX Great Northwest Nationals next year, he said.

    The events could further boost a $498-million-a-year tourism economy in Central Oregon — a region that is trying to spread the word about its recreational opportunities, said Doug LaPlaca, president and CEO of the Bend Visitor & Convention Bureau.

    “It has the potential of having a positive impact on Bend tourism by bringing competitors and spectators into our region,” LaPlaca said. “It will be important for the Oregon Sports Authority to work collaboratively with local events organizers to maximize the potential that sports can have on this region.”

     — Bend Bulletin, October 26, 2007


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