In January, Prince William County in Virginia named Michael Rojas its sports tourism manager—a newly created position within the county, which is located on the bustling outskirts of Washington, D.C.
Rojas, who served eight years in the U.S. Navy before pursuing a career in sports tourism, previously worked as the sports sales manager in Lubbock, Texas. He spent nearly a year in the role, where he contributed to Visit Lubbock’s efforts to renovate and expand its athletic complex. Connect Sports chatted with Rojas about the new role and what he hopes to bring to Prince William County.
What are some of the challenges you see in Prince William County?
The biggest obstacle for taking that next step forward—from where we are to where we could be —is the facilities. We don’t have the large venue space that, ideally, I would like to have to bring in some of those NGB-type events or host a large conference. So we’re trying to find ways to entice planners to come here. You have to be creative and know what you’re doing, and find what people are really looking fo — and come up with a good plan of action. But the community as a whole has a lot of support for what we’re doing. The county board advocated for a need for more sports tourism and wants to grow it. That’s why I’m here now, and why my position was created.
Tell me more about your long-term vision for Prince William County, which includes developing a sports complex. What does that process look like?
It really depends on what kind of traction I can get going. An indoor facility has been looked at in the past, but never really got any headway. I would love to see something come to fruition in the near future, and we have a need for a larger outdoor sports complex. I’d like to see 10 to 15 multipurpose fields at one location. Having multiple baseball diamonds that would be huge, and having something that’s not just an indoor sports facility, but could be used for trade shows, conferences, and graduations — that’s a vision that I see and that my directors are in line with. That all begins with bringing in new events and giving a reason for our county to put forth the funding toward a facility. So, where it all starts—really, no pressure—is me. But I look forward to the challenge, and I look forward to really putting Prince William County on the map.
How are you getting the message out about Prince William County?
My network is part of it, using my resources that I’ve already developed. I’ve been reaching out to event organizers that I know and going to conferences. The next step is attending all these different national conferences and getting in front of event organizers, and explaining to them what we have, what we want to do, and what I can do for them. We’re also working on our marketing and creating a stronger website that will have more to offer online. With the help of my communications manager for tourism, we’re also brainstorming what SEOs we can use to direct people to Prince William. We also want to create more marketing and ads, and put our name into different sports industry newsletters and magazines, to create awareness. We are in the beginning stages of that, so there is a lot of planning and discussion.
What are you most excited about in this position?
I’m excited about what the future holds. This role fits my character, and I fell in love with the industry the minute I got into it. It works on so many levels of giving back to the community, to be able to actually make a difference in people’s lives. Being able to see what things I can do to help the community grow is huge for me. I am humbled to have the opportunity that I have here, and I have a great team around me. That’s half of the battle right there: If you have a good support team around you, your abilities are endless. I’m grateful for that and I'm just excited to see what this first year brings and where we can go from there.