The Erie Sports Commission presented seven awards when it hosted its annual Sports Tourism Awards on Thursday, Feb. 20 at the Bel-Aire by Wyndham Hotel and Conference Center. More than 120 guests attended the event, which is held annually to honor and recognize the outstanding efforts of the people who had an impact on sports tourism in the region.
The VNEA PA State 8-Ball Tournament, which will be held for the 38th year in March 2020, was awarded the 2019 Ron Sertz Dedication to Erie Award. Doug and Tina Pershun of the Stars and Stripes Gymnastics Invitational, the award’s first recipient, presented the award to David Warner and Ed Borgia for growing the event into the fourth-largest 8-ball tournament in the country.
Brett Rearick accepted the 2019 Impact Award on behalf of the Pennsylvania State USBC Open Championships, which was hosted in Erie over 10 weekends in 2019, and generated an estimated $2.1 million in economic impact.
Lauren and Josh Eckendorf were named the 2019 Volunteers of the Year for their work on the Edinboro Triathlon. The volunteer race directors were instrumental in the event’s return in 2019, after taking a one-year hiatus.
The 2019 New Event of the Year was presented to the 2019 Mid-Atlantic Broomball Tournament. The three-day tournament featured nearly 150 broomball players from Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Minnesota, Washington, D.C., New York, New Jersey, Indiana and Ohio in November 2019.
Champion Cheer Central was named the 2019 Event Series of the Year for the second consecutive year. Their series of four events in 2019 boasted an estimated economic impact of $2.3 million, up from $1.3 million in 2018.
Erie County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper presented the 2019 Locally Managed Event of the Year award to the Erie Frost Battle of Lake Erie, which sold out with more than 60 teams and added a college showcase for its fourth year. The award was accepted by Pat Rougeux of Erie Frost Softball.
Rally North America was named the 2019 National Event of the Year by Erie Mayor Joe Schember. Erie served as the starting line for Rally New England, a four-day automotive scavenger hunt that saw more than 85 cars from 31 states and Canada make 21 stops along a 1,200-mile route and raise money for charity.
The ESC experienced its most impactful year to date in 2019, supporting and hosting 74 events, which resulted in $19.5 million in estimated economic impact, both record highs for the organization. Nearly one-third of the events were hosted in Erie for the first time, and participants in the events hailed from 35 states and Canada.