Southwest Florida is known to attract different types of tourists. Beach lovers are attracted to the world-famous white sands of Siesta Key, bird watchers and fans of nature exploration are attracted to state parks such as Myakka River and Oscar Scherer, lovers of the arts and history flock to Sarasota, etc. In 2012, however, thousands of tourists arrived in Manatee and Sarasota counties drawn to the region's dedication to sports.
Bradenton and Sarasota may not have any professional sports teams of NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, or MLS caliber, but the region is nevertheless attracting sports tourism thanks to the dedication of organizers and professionals involved in competitive sports and athletic preparation. More sports tourists are arriving thanks to venues such as the Florida World Aquatic Center in Sarasota, the IMG Sports Training Academy in Bradenton, the Premier Sports Campus in Lakewood Ranch, Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex, McKechnie Field in Bradenton, and others.
Southwest Florida is already a breeding ground for MLS hopefuls. U.S. Soccer has already expressed deep interest in the region as a hotbed for professional soccer, but Lakewood Ranch has also proven an ideal location for field polo tournaments, cross-county meets, Ultimate Frisbee Championships, lacrosse matches, and more.
McKechnie Field in Bradenton has undergone major renovations and upgrades to remain the springtime home of the Pittsburgh Pirates, and now even the Canadian Football League is interested in using Lakewood Ranch's Premier Sports Campus. All this is in addition to the privileged status that the region enjoys by being a premier host of professional golf tournaments.
The sports industry is a major economic contributor to any housing market, and it is not limited of playing host to a professional sports team. Sports instruction, promotion, organization, and tourism are also major factors that attract house hunters to specific markets. Thanks to the hard work of sports industry insiders, Lakewood Ranch homeowners will enjoy greater appreciation in terms of property value.