Connect Sports is pleased to announce it has reached an agreement with the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) in which AAU event planners will exclusively attend Connect Sports, Aug. 30-Sept. 1, in Tampa, Fla. The announcement solidifies Connect Sports as the premier industry event for one-on-one business opportunities and incredible networking experiences.
This year’s event at the Tampa Convention Center comes at a crucial point for the sports tourism industry. After 18 long months of battling COVID-19 and the related disruptions across the board, the country is ready to move beyond the pandemic. Sports, from professional leagues to travel youth tournaments, looks to be at the forefront of the recovery.
“We’re extremely excited to partner with the AAU,” says Connect Vice President Patrick Higgins. “They are consistently one of the most sought-after organizations by CVBs and sports commissions not only because of the thousands of events that they represent but also the quality and professionalism of their staff. The AAU has been providing our youth with opportunities to participate in sports since the 1800s, and they are just as eager as we are to get kids out and playing sports as quickly as possible. Whether you’re a destination that focuses on hosting sporting events all year round or one that simply looks to sports to fill a needed period or two, the AAU has event-hosting opportunities for you, and they’ll be ready to discuss them at the 2021 Connect Sports Marketplace."
Added AAU President and CEO Jennings “Rusty” Buchanan, “As the industry leader in youth sports, the AAU strives to partner with companies that share a likeminded commitment to excellence. As the leader in marketplace events, Connect offers AAU the best opportunity to continue to build on its important relationships with CVBs, sport commissions and other companies needed to successfully host AAU events across the country.”
No events organization stands to do as much good for communities eager to welcome visitors and to families ready to resume their lives than AAU. Established in 1888, it has been the preeminent organization in youth sports for more than 130 years. Its brand spans across 45 sports—each featured in elite events operated by dedicated planners, many of whom will attend Connect Sports—that are played in all sizes of venues.
In 2020, AAU took the lead in allowing young athletes to showcase their skills in a safe manner, hosting 25 national championships despite the pandemic. The 54th AAU Junior Olympic Games alone had an estimated $1 million impact on Brevard County, Fla. Other notable AAU events include:
- AAU Junior National Volleyball Championships. Arguably the first premier event to occur during the pandemic last summer, it attracted 45,000 athletes and 100,000 spectators to Central Florida in 2019.
- AAU Jam On It Reno Memorial Day Tournament. More than 1,200 amateur youth basketball teams (boys and girls), totaling 15,600 athletes (along with 38,000 spectators) came from Nevada, California, Oregon, Washington, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico and played in a total of 2,275 games in 2019.
Other sports included in the broad offerings include pickleball, diving and inline hockey, among others.
“No organization has more experience in the sports event industry than our organization,” said Buchanan. “From premier world championships in basketball, to the multi-sport AAU Junior Olympic Games, and the world-record breaking AAU Junior National Volleyball Championships, the AAU brings immense value to each city we host events in, positively impacting sport venues and facilities, restaurants, hotels and other local area businesses.”