Sports have always been a large part of my life, and as a result, my personal and professional lives are closely related. I am fortunate to work with sports every day as committee chair for the North Iowa Sports Authority, a partnership between Visit Mason City and the Clear Lake Chamber of Commerce. I have seen first-hand the local impact of sports tourism.

Sports is big business in the United States. According to the most recent report from the National Association of Sports Commissions, visitors spent more than $9.45 billion on sports travel in 2015, a 5 percent increase over the previous year.

Locally, visitor spending from sports tourism is estimated at over $30 million in Mason City. Most of that money is spent on food, lodging and retail, providing a significant economic boost that's good for everyone in the community.

Today, many sports are played year-round, and traveling a couple of hours to get to a game is considered "close" and "routine." For many, family vacations have transformed into "sports-cations," as participation in youth sports continues to increase. Communities throughout our state are clamoring for a piece of this proverbial pie.

As part of the River City Renaissance Project, the proposed multipurpose arena will provide a new venue within Mason City that will help our community - and North Iowa - grow in the sports tourism market and further capitalize on our ideal location between Minneapolis and Des Moines. In addition to the ice sports, we will finally have a facility to host a variety of sport and recreation events that will attract visitors and serve as a driver to economic development.

Please join me in supporting the River City Renaissance Project and vote yes on Nov. 7.

Dan Mason, Mason City

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