More hotels are needed near Osceola County’s sports venues, local officials told county commissioners on Monday. Particularly in need, they said, are places to stay near the county’s baseball and softball fields that draw events featuring players from across the country.

The issue came up during a quarterly briefing about the fields, including the Osceola County Softball Complex, Austin-Tindall Regional Park, Osceola County Stadium, and Osceola Heritage Park.

Hotel occupancy rates are down from this time last year, attributed to more tournaments and games with a local focus. County facilities hosted more events, increasing direct economic impact because hotels charged higher rates for local teams. The combined estimated economic impact of all four venues was put at about $114 million for the fiscal year.

Despite the optimistic presentation, commissioners posed questions. County Commissioner Fred Hawkins wanted to know why there weren’t more events for children in an event card that consisted of mostly sporting events. Commissioner Cheryl Grieb wanted to know what was needed to draw a higher hotel night count, saying, “I’m looking at more multiday, amateur events that could cover the “heads in beds” aspect. The main challenge cited was the lack of hotels in the area and only one nearby facility  that was constantly at capacity.

As he closed the meeting, Osceola County Sports and Events Facilities Director Don Miers said, “There is excitement about hotels being raised in the area, and concerns about not having a hotel that was accessible” when potential organizers were planning their events.

The possibility of more hotels is being discussed in the county commission’s Tourism Development Committee.

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