HBO is looking at the big business of youth sports in Myrtle Beach


HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” will air a segment Tuesday night that focuses in part on the youth sports industry in Myrtle Beach.

In 2016, families spent $10 billion across the country taking their children to out-of-town tournaments and other pay-to-play events, according to a press release from HBO.

“Real Sports correspondent Jon Frankel takes a hard look at this robust youth sports boom and finds that even as more venues are built, fewer kids get to play in them, thanks to declining participation rates among families who can’t afford to pay and play,” the release said.

Sports tourism brings an estimated $200-million economic impact to Myrtle Beach, and youth events are the most profitable.

Myrtle Beach has invested heavily in the sports tourism industry with two main multi-million dollar venues: the outdoor Grand Park in The Market Common and the Myrtle Beach Sports Center.

The city also has enough hotel rooms to support multiple family members from large tournaments.

“We've got something for kids to do and the parents when they get through the game that day, rather than going back to a hotel room,” Mayor John Rhodes said.

Myrtle Beach has seen competition from other areas nearby as the industry grows, however. North Myrtle Beach also completed its Park and Sports Complex in 2014. It has been successful in luring away at least one large event from Myrtle Beach—the Highland Games, which were were held at Grand Park for the past two years.

The city of Florence has also invested in a soccer complex recently.

But, Rhodes said, the HBO program “is going to be something that when people throughout the country see, it’s going to allow us to grow even more.”

Chloe Johnson: 843-626-0381, @_ChloeAJ