Columbia Parks & Rec awarded as champions of sports tourism during pandemic

The Columbia Parks and Recreation Department was recently recognized on a national level for its work in keeping local sports tourism thriving and successful in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

During Columbia City Council’s regular meeting last week, Parks and Rec staffers presented an award by Sports Destination Management, which named the department Champions of Economic Impact in Sports Tourism, which was given based on the department’s ability to “host the best sports events, held nationally, in the face of the pandemic that showed creative problem solving, determination and courage.”

The award also considers the department as “heroes” when it comes to how sports tourism is promoted on the local level.

“I can’t think of a better honoree than our parks and rec department,” Columbia Mayor Chaz Molder said.

Columbia Parks Director Mack Reagan attends the Midstate Classic at the Ridley Park Sports Complex in Columbia on Tuesday, March 12, 2019.

Parks and Recreation Director Mack Reagan also recognized Bill Marbet, who was also given a city proclamation during the meeting for his work in helping local sports organizations, particularly when it comes to keeping the fields clean and up to par for tournaments and other sporting events.

“He actually turns our fields over on most weekends when we have these tournaments. It allows our staff to go home, while his staff is out there, sometimes at 2 am,” Reagan said. “I think it’s good to recognize them, because it’s a big impact on what we do. This is a really good award, and something we’ve been trying to achieve over the last six years.”

Bill Marbet preps the field for second game of the Misstate Classic at the Ridley Park Sports Complex in Columbia on Tuesday, March 12, 2019.

Marbet will also be recognized as part of the TSSAA’s 40th class of Hall of Famers in April.

The award also acknowledges that the parks department’s efforts drew a $1.8 million economic impact to the city, Reagan added.

“It met our entire quota from what was done in the past during the entire month of June, which is our ‘money month,’ and so it was a really big deal,” Reagan said. “It was just a massive economic impact and allowed us to do a lot of things.”

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