World's Largest Field Hockey Tournament Returns to the Palm Beaches.
USA Field Hockey (USAFH) will partner with the Palm Beach County Sports Commission to host the 2016 and 2017 National Hockey Festival at the International Polo Club in Wellington. The Festival takes place over Thanksgiving weekend, from November 24-27, 2016 and November 23-26, 2017.
USA Field Hockey will bring over 240 teams, consisting of more than 4,000 athletes and 8,000 total visitors from the United States, Canada, Europe, and the Caribbean, to play and stay in the Palm Beaches. The participating teams will contend for titles in women's and men’s divisions, including women’s age group (Under 14, Under 16 and Under 19), boy's age group (Under 16), and women’s open and mixed (adult). Over 800 field hockey games will take place during the National Hockey Festival, creating an unrivaled volume of competition occurring during a single event.
After spending two years away from the East Coast, the Palm Beach County Sports Commission emerged with the most compelling bid to host in 2016 and 2017. The National Hockey Festival is one of the largest amateur sporting events that takes place annually in the United States. This event represents a landmark occasion, not only for the Palm Beaches, but for the entire state of Florida. Palm Beach County is the only destination in Florida to host the Festival, and has been home to the National Hockey Festival nine (9) previous times (most recently in 2012 and 2013). Each year, the event continues to grow in team participation as well as the economic benefits that it brings to a community.
“We are delighted to be returning to the International Polo Club in the Palm Beaches,” said Simon Hoskins, USA Field Hockey Executive Director. “Many in the field hockey community have been hoping to see the Festival return to Florida and we are thrilled that this opportunity became available. We can all be confident that we will strive to put on the very best event for athletes, club and college coaches, umpires, sponsors, volunteers and family members.”
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 the successful bid. USA Field Hockey will layout over 30 field hockey pitches on 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.
Very few communities have the privilege and capability to host an event such as the National Hockey Festival. This event generated a tremendous tourism impact the last time Palm Beach County played host in 2013. In that year, the Palm Beaches received nearly $9 million of direct visitor spending and 12,830 hotel room nights. The 2016 rendition should produce greater results.
The significant level of visitor spending and rise in hotel occupancy are welcomed by the hotel and business community. The impact will occur during a favorable timeframe for Palm Beach County’s hospitality industry. The National Hockey Festival will fill over 50 hotels from Jupiter to Boca Raton, offering room blocks for this event. Field hockey athletes, coaches, and spectators will be occupying hotels and creating an economic impact countywide.
“The Palm Beach County Sports Commission is humbled, honored and excited that USA Field Hockey will bring its National Hockey Festival back to the Palm Beaches," said George Linley, Palm Beach County Sports Commission Executive Director. “The abundance of new dollars and rise in hotel occupancy will be welcomed by the hospitality and business community. Hotels, restaurants, retail outlets, and attractions from Jupiter to Boca Raton will experience a surge of business over Thanksgiving weekend. There are very few opportunities to host a single sporting event that will create a tourism and economic impact countywide.”
The National Hockey Festival originates back to 1922. The event features the most talented field hockey athletes in the world, including future Olympians. The prestige and reputation of this event 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 one of the most successful National Governing Bodies in the United States.
The National Hockey Festival will provide a major economic boost to the Palm Beaches. Below summarizes the anticipated economic benefits:
• 8,000 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
• Over 50 hotel properties are expected to receive business
• Over 4,000 airline flights expected to impact south Florida airports