2021 Newsmaker: Mike Guswiler


Mike Guswiler


West Michigan Sports Commission

Sports provided the momentum for 2021’s tourism comeback in West Michigan, and West Michigan Sports Commission President Mike Guswiler led the charge.

The organization was able to secure national baseball and softball tournaments for 2021, and those agreements proved to be pivotal. The economic impact of the 2021 baseball and softball season in West Michigan doubled that of 2020.

There were 684 baseball and softball teams, 8,892 athletes and 22,230 spectators who booked 5,973 hotel room nights in West Michigan. That resulted in $5,618,365 in estimated visitor spending throughout the region.

The total number of tournaments that were hosted in 2021 represented an increase of 67% from 2020, which saw 15 tournaments.

Fifty percent of the teams that played here were travel teams. In 2020, 27% of the teams that played here were travel teams, or 124 of 462 teams.

The teams traveled from southeast Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Tennessee, Pennsylvania and Ontario. The travel squads resulted in a 145% increase in hotel nights booked in 2021 at 5,973, versus 2,433 in 2020.

The estimated $5.6 million in visitor spending through hotel nights and other purchases improved by 134% from 2020’s $2.4 million.

“The 2021 season at the Meijer Sports Complex has been a complete success, proving that sports tourism is leading the comeback of our regional tourism economy,” Guswiler said. “The return of more baseball/softball tournaments, especially those that attract travel teams, is a bellwether of more positive change to come in the sports tourism industry.”

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