Grand Traverse Resorts invests in portable sports flooring and will host the first basketball tournament this weekend
The Grand Traverse Resort and Spa is no stranger to sporting events. The property regularly hosts tennis tournaments at its health club, and Special Olympics Michigan has used the complex as one of its venues on several occasions over the years. This weekend, however, the resort will be doing something it’s never done before: hosting a youth basketball competition.
Basketball tournaments have not been part of the resort’s offerings over the years due to the simple fact that there are no basketball courts on the premises. But thanks to a major investment in temporary wooden sports floors, Grand Traverse Resort is now able to transform its health club into a temporary indoor sports complex. This is a unique strategy, and the hotel hopes it will broaden its demographic reach, boost its shoulder season business, and generate more than 1,000 room nights each year.
Caroline Rizzo, the resort’s public relations manager, says this weekend’s Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) basketball tournament will draw “nearly 800 people,” spanning 34 city youth basketball teams. from Michigan like Sault Ste Marie, Chesterfield, Grand Rapids. , Dearborn, Bay City, Detroit, Eaton Rapids, Saline, Oscoda, Midland, Cadillac, Gaylord and Traverse City.
The tournament marks the grand premiere of the new sports flooring, which Rizzo says the resort purchased last fall. The event is also the start of a new partnership between the resort and FAAST Sports, an upstate-based youth sports tournament provider that works with travel sports teams from Michigan, Ohio , Indiana and Illinois. Beyond this weekend, FAAST will host five more AAU youth basketball tournaments at the resort this year, including events scheduled for March, April, May and June.
Rizzo tells The ticker that the FAAST Sports partnership will likely only be the first in a series of efforts by the Resort to further break into the world of sports. With the flooring, the hotel is able to convert all of the tennis court space inside its health club into a play area. Currently, the flooring is painted to allow for four basketball courts and five volleyball courts, but Rizzo says sports like wrestling, dancing and cheering could also be played.
“We have also been in communication with the Detroit Pistons about organizing camps or tournaments, or other things with organizations like them,” adds Rizzo. “So there’s a lot of really cool potential for fun events that could bring people here to Traverse City.”
While Rizzo acknowledges that the new flooring was “a significant investment for the resort”, she also says the company is optimistic that the large initial outlay will pay off in the form of additional business. The tournaments the resort already has on the schedule this year alone will generate approximately 1,200 room nights for the property. But Rizzo also says that due to its unique value proposition as a sports venue, Grand Traverse Resort has the potential to increase that number significantly in the future.
“This is a new initiative for Traverse City in terms of stay and play offerings,” says Rizzo. “It’s huge that everything happens on one property – [including] accommodation, tournaments and amenities. There is no place in the Midwest that currently offers a stay and play option. You should go to Virginia, Pennsylvania or Tennessee [to find something comparable].”
In 2018, Traverse City Tourism (TCT) hired a consulting firm to conduct a feasibility study assessing the potential economic costs and benefits of constructing a year-round indoor sports complex in Traverse City. That effort ultimately didn’t lead to a new facility, but Rizzo says TCT soon became a major sponsor when the resort began exploring the sports flooring option. Other sponsors include Pepsi, Gatorade, Gordon Food Service and Midwestern Broadcasting.