Travel Medford Brings National Sports Event Organizers To Southern Oregon
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After receiving a $5,000 grant from Travel Oregon last September, Travel Medford hosted a Sports Familiarization (FAM) Tour which brought sports event organizers from across the United States to Southern Oregon. The goal was for these visitors to experience Southern Oregon’s natural and manmade venues, and encourage them to hold their functions here or create new ones. Several sports event organizers visited Southern Oregon, the first of whom was Matt Dockstader with Destination Events. Dockstader has created and run several marathons, half marathons and 10Ks throughout the country, including the Wine Country Half Marathon in the Willamette Valley and an IPA 10K in Sebastopol. He was impressed with Downtown Medford and the Commons. “I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Medford and Southern Oregon,” said Dockstader. “It’s a unique region in that it has so much to offer with its varied geography, recreational and cultural offerings, paired with thriving downtown hubs that support a growing wine, beer and culinary scene.” Chuck Kenlan, the Executive Director of the Oregon Bicycle Racing Association (OBRA), was Travel Medford’s next guest. Kenlan brought a member of his Board of Directors with him, Brad Ross. Their group visited Prescott Park and Mountain of the Rogue, explored the cycling trails and discussed potential events. Kenlan and Ross felt springtime cycling events would flourish here. "Medford and the Rogue River Valley provide a spectacular backdrop for high level bicycle racing,” said Kenlan. He believes the climate, scenery and varied terrain will attract cyclists from around the region and beyond. “I am impressed with the passionate and engaged cycling community. OBRA will do everything in its power to support competitive cycling to the area,” he said. Kenlan was also excited to work with a visitors bureau that sees the tourism and cultural value cycling can bring to a community. Later during Kenlan’s visit, Travel Medford hosted a “Beer & Bikes with Chuck” reception and invited several members of Southern Oregon’s cycling community. Local cyclers were pleased to see a representative from OBRA who offered support for events. This hasn’t been the case in recent years and was a memorable milestone. Since Kenlan’s visit, Travel Medford has met with a handful of cyclers who are interested in creating a race series in downtown Medford next spring, with the hopes of putting on a Stage Race in 2020. Morgan House, the Director of High Performance & Competition with the American Canoe Association (ACA) was the next guest. The ACA is the Olympic governing body for paddle sports. House saw the Gold Hill Whitewater Center and the Rogue Rowing Club at Emigrant Lake. The Gold Hill Whitewater Center course is a potential Olympic slalom training venue, and home to events such as King of the Rogue and U.S. Rafting National Championships. Director Steve Kiesling feels the course could be the 2028 Olympic venue if Los Angeles decides not to build an artificial course. Additionally, Rogue Rowing was named 2017 Rowing Club of the Year and is raising funds to build a new aquatic center. Travel Medford hosted a dinner for House and invited key people in paddle sports and tourism to attend. He was impressed with the area and its amazing natural water resources. “The Gold Hill Whitewater Center is a whitewater & slalom venue with amazing potential. Medford has already put in so much time, effort and energy into getting the course set up and developing the infrastructure needed to support an Olympic-class facility,” he said. House believes in the potential of the whitewater center and the opportunities it will bring to athletes, and the impact it will have on the city of Medford. House was also dazzled by the hospitality he received. He said that Gainesville, Georgia was named the hospitality capital of the world during the 1996 Olympics, but he believes that if the world has the opportunity to experience what Medford has to offer, the title of hospitality capital of the world will no longer be exclusive to Gainesville. Showcasing Southern Oregon to the sports event organizers opened their eyes to the beauty and potential of Southern Oregon. All of the FAM visitors were pleasantly surprised by the opportunities in Southern Oregon, the caliber of venues and the passion of the community for sports and events. They all left saying, “I had no idea.” Now they do.
LOCAL SPOTLIGHT
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Morgan House and Steve Kiesling discuss the proposed course on the Rogue River.
The Chamber of Medford/Jackson County
101 E. 8th St.  |  Medford, OR 97501
Phone: (541) 779-4847
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