Sports are able to bring generations together and create lasting connections.
Many of us remember where we were when Salvador Perez drove home the winning run for the Royals in a thrilling playoff victory over the A’s. Even casual fans recall that the Chiefs were going to the Super Bowl last season — until the referee threw a flag in that game against the Patriots. Those Missouri-Kansas hardcourt battles were something to talk about for a week.
In St. Joseph, crowds have had plenty of reasons to cheer over the years.
Local weightlifters Wes Barnett and Pete Kelley competed at Olympic Trials at Civic Arena. The Women’s Division II Elite Eight Tournament brought top college basketball teams to the city. St. Joseph native Ryan Bradley skated at Bode Ice Arena after becoming a U.S. champion. Decades ago, a young Andre Agassi competed in a U.S. Tennis Association satellite tournament at the Noyes courts. Chiefs camp attracted national media to Missouri Western State University this year, with the Tyreek Hill story and the emergence of Patrick Mahomes as an elite quarterback.
Imagine what St. Joseph can accomplish with a unified voice and a coherent vision.
A kickoff event last week marked the return of the St. Joseph Sports Commission, a group that seeks to promote sports tourism and attract tournaments to St. Joseph.
The commission, an umbrella group for the St. Joseph Convention & Visitors Bureau, was formed in the 1990s but was inactive over the last several years. Its revitalization, under the leadership of Missouri Western Senior Associate Athletic Director Brett Esely, will help boost St. Joseph’s profile in the wide world of sports.
We think the community should get behind these efforts. The commission has the potential to sell St. Joseph to outside organizers. If successful, the commission will put St. Joseph on the map, generate excitement and also bring in tax revenue.
The group also could serve as an internal advocate for improving athletic facilities in St. Joseph, an issue of critical importance because of the competition for these events. Noyes tennis courts might be back up to USTA standards, but imagine the challenge of convincing a league or promoter to choose Civic Arena over a newer events center in a similar-sized city.
This commission exists not just because sports are fun to watch, but because of the wider benefit for St. Joseph and its economy. Sure, this city will never land a marquee event like the Super Bowl or a Final Four, but that doesn’t mean this isn’t a sports city.
A revived Sports Commission will help St. Joseph capture its share of the action.