Warren County has been selected to host the 2018 World Ultimate Club Championships, a week-long event expected to attract as many as 3,000 Frisbee players and their friends and family, along with millions of dollars of spending from around the world.
The event is to be held from July 14, 2018, to July 21, 2018, the Lebanon area.
Tourism officials project it will have a $3 million economic impact for Warren County, as visitors from as many as 50 countries buy 10,000 room nights, not to mention additional spending on meals and other entertainment while in the county and the country.
Exposure could extend across the globe. Past championships have been televised by ESPN.
“It’s wonderful exposure having people from out of the country right here in Southwest Ohio,” said Warren County Commissioner Pat South. “It’s an economic benefit for the entire region.”
Attendance varies from year to year, but the championship typically draws teams from around the world.
In 2014, 160 teams and 4,000 players traveled to the championship in Lecco, Italy, according to the World Flying Disc Federation, based in Germany.
“This event will be televised nationally and is expected to bring 130 teams from over 20 countries,” Lebanon City Manager Pat Clements said in a memorandum to Lebanon City Council last week.
Promotional materials project as many as 3,000 players from 50 countries.
“This tournament is projected to be among the largest sporting events ever hosted in the region and will be a significant source of economic impact for Warren County,” Ben Huffman, director of sports marketing for the Warren County Convention & Visitors Bureau said in a press release.
In scoring the tourney, Warren County was picked over two other candidates, including Leeuwarden, the Netherlands, as part of efforts by the Dutch Flying Disc Federation to promote the sport in this part of Europe, according to reports.
Organizers declined to confirm or identify the candidates, but the third city in the running is in France, according to Peter Tran, a board member with the Cincinnati Ultimate Players Association.
Joining Warren County in its bid were the Cincinnati and Columbus Ultimate Frisbee player associations; Oshadega, a group trying to establish a Ultimate Frisbee field in Ohio; and USA Ultimate, the national governing body for the sport.
While most or all of the matches are to be played at the Lebanon Sports Complex, off U.S. 42 and McClure Road, the players, coaches and their families are expected to stay in hotels along and around the Cincinnati-Dayton corridor.
In addition, they are expected to check out Kings Island Amusement Park and other area tourist attractions, and in some cases venture beyond Southwest Ohio, after traveling abroad to the U.S.
“They have a tendency to come a few days earlier and stay a few days later,” said South, also a former member of the board for the Warren County Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Last week, representatives from the visitors bureau and USA Ultimate were touring Warren County to select the high school where the championship match will be played.
“They may decide on a high school this week, but it could potentially take a few months,” Scott Hutchinson, communications manager for the visitors bureau, said last week in an email.
Ultimate is a team sport played with a Frisbee. Typically seven players from two 15-member teams compete by driving the length of the playing field for scores.
Ned Earley, an Ultimate Frisbee player, and teacher and coach of the teams at Lebanon High School, said bringing such a high level of play to town is significant.
“It’s a huge experience for me,” said Earley, who planned to clear his schedule to volunteer during the tournament. About 500 volunteers are expected to be needed.
On the downside, local residents will have to deal with traffic and other problems associated with the influx of visitors. But costs of the event are “borne by the event itself,” according to Hutchinson.
The visitors bureau and Cincinnati Ultimate Players Association have hosted 21 events over the past decade. They are collaborating to bring the 2017 USA Ultimate College Nationals to the area on Memorial Day weekend.
Beyond the benefits derived directly from the 2018 Ultimate World Club Championship, Warren County figures to be able to parlay its selection into hosting more big-time sporting contests and other events, boosting tourism, its top industry.
“It puts us in a much more competitive placement to actually get more of those competitions,” South said.
What is Ultimate?
Ultimate was developed in 1968 by a group of students at Columbia High School in Maplewood, N.J. Although ultimate resembles many traditional sports in its athletic requirements, it is unlike most sports due to its focus on self-officiating, even at the highest levels of competition. This concept, called Spirit of the Game, is integrated into the basic philosophy of the sport, written into the rules, and practiced at all levels of the game from local leagues to the World Games.
Combining the non-stop movement and athletic endurance of soccer with the aerial passing skills of football, a game of ultimate is played by two teams with a flying disc on a field with end zones, similar to football. The object of the game is to score by catching a pass in the opponent’s end zone. A player must stop running while in possession of the disc, but may pivot and pass to any of the other receivers on the field. Ultimate is a transition game in which players move quickly from offense to defense on turnovers that occur with a dropped pass, an interception, a pass out of bounds, or when a player is caught holding the disc for more than ten seconds.
Source: World Flying Disc Federation