Palm Beach County will be home to one of the largest amateur sporting events in the world for the second consecutive year. USA Field Hockey (USAFH) will partner with the Palm Beach County Sports Commission to host the National Hockey Festival at the International Polo Club in Wellington over Thanksgiving weekend, from November 28 to December 1, 2013. This is the world’s largest field hockey tournament. Over 260 teams, consisting of more than 4,400 athletes and 8,500 total visitors from the United States, Canada, Europe, and the Caribbean will visit Palm Beach County. The participating teams will contend for titles in women's and men’s divisions, including women’s age group (Under 16 and Under 19), boy's age group (Under 16), and women’s open and mixed (adult). The 2013 rendition of the National Hockey Festival includes a new division, which features a 7-v-7 format for women (Under 14). The new division makes this year’s Festival the largest in its history.
The National Hockey Festival is a landmark occasion for the entire state of Florida. Palm Beach County has hosted a version of the National Hockey Festival eight (8) previous times. However, this year’s event has significantly grown in player participation as well as the economic benefits that it brings to a community. The Festival is expected to be the largest amateur sporting event hosted by the Palm Beach County Sports Commission this decade.
The International Polo Club is a remarkable venue that maintains over 200 acres of land, consisting of nine (9) polo fields. The venue was a key ingredient in Palm Beach County’s successful bid. USA Field Hockey will layout 33 field hockey pitches over 6 polo fields. The partnership with the International Polo Club provides a competitive advantage for Palm Beach County in regards to pursuing and hosting major national and international sporting events. “This is exciting news for the business community in Palm Beach and Wellington” says John Wash, International Polo Club’s President of Club Operations. “International Polo Club is proud to be able to participate and showcase our community and property, and we are looking forward to hosting this event”.
Very few communities have the privilege and ability to host an event such as the National Hockey Festival. Field hockey athletes and visitors will be occupying hotels and spending money countywide. Last year, the National Hockey Festival generated $8.25 million of direct visitor spending and 11,569 hotel room nights to the local economy. Due to the increase in teams for 2013, this year’s Festival is expected to generate over $9 million of visitor spending and 12,000 hotel room nights. These new dollars and rise in hotel occupancy are welcomed by the hotel and business community. The impact will occur during a timeframe when hotels, restaurants, and attractions could use a boost. Global JBS, the housing partner for USA Field Hockey, has assembled more than 50 hotels, located from Jupiter to Boca Raton, to offer room housing accommodations for the National Hockey Festival.
The National Hockey Festival origins date back to 1922. The event features the most talented field hockey athletes in the world including future Olympians. The prestige and reputation of the National Hockey Festival creates a long wait list of teams wishing to participate. Today, over 23,000 athletes, coaches, officials and fans comprise the membership of USA Field Hockey, making it USA Field Hockey one of the most successful National Governing Bodies in the United States.
Thanksgiving is about rituals, stuffed turkeys, and football. However, the tradition is changing to include field hockey in Palm Beach County. Make sure you come out to the International Polo Club over thanksgiving weekend to experience this special event, which is free and open to the public.
Games will take place during the following times:
Thursday, November 28, 7:30am to 4:30pm
Friday, November 29, 7:30am to 4:30pm
Saturday, November 30, 7:30am to 4:30pm
Sunday, December 1, 8:00am to 12:00pm
The 2013 National Hockey Festival will provide a major economic boost. Below summarizes the anticipated economic impact for Palm Beach County:
• 8,500 visitors from across the United States, Canada, Europe, and the Caribbean
• 5 day average length of stay for field hockey visitors
• $9 million of direct visitor spending
• Over 12,000 hotel room nights
• 50 hotel properties will receive business
• Over 4,400 car rental days expected
• Over 4,000 airline flights expected