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Greater Savannah Sports Council Celebrates 20th Anniversary

SAVANNAH, GA — The Greater Savannah Sports Council, a division of Visit Savannah and the Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce, is celebrating 20 years of athletic activities and sports-related special events in Savannah.

In 1993, the Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce established the Greater Savannah Sports Council (GSSC) as a council to market Savannah and Chatham County as a site for major local, state, regional, national and international sporting events.

“After 20 years, the Sports Council remains dedicated to bringing a variety of quality events that attract participants as well as their families,” said Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Bill Hubbard. “While in Savannah, these visitors stay at hotels, many beyond the Historic District, eat at our restaurants, and shop in our stores—boosting local businesses, especially those near the sports facilities.”

Some of the successes the GSSC have achieved including helping to attract events such as the Liberty Mutual Insurance Legends of Golf, Rock ‘n’ Roll Savannah Marathon and Half Marathon, EVP Pro Beach Volleyball Tour and including this year’s YMCA Gymnastic National Championships, among others.

“The Greater Savannah Sports Council has had both an economic and quality of life impact on our community, by giving our citizens an increased chance to stay active and healthy when participating in one of these sporting events,” said Ben Wilder, GSSC director since 2007.

Savannah has seen significant growth in the sports tourism market over the years, and in 2012, booked a record 45,000 room nights specifically related to sports.

“We have expanded the Sports Council’s reach beyond just adding tournaments, by becoming an active member of the community,” Wilder said. “Guided by a 25 member advisory board, we have been able to support a wide variety of local events and organizations.”

In addition to bringing in national events, the Sports Council also owns and operates two of the most popular sports events in Savannah: the Enmark Savannah River Bridge Run and the Savannah Tire Hockey Classic. The GSSC also annual recognizes local athletes at its Georgia Power Sports Awards Luncheon.

“When you think about the impact that the Greater Savannah Sports Council has had on this community, it really is huge,” said Visit Savannah President Joseph Marinelli. “From the coordination efforts of the ’96 Olympic sailing events, to the years and years of producing the Bridge Run and Hockey Classic, to the more recent additions of the Rock ‘n Roll Marathon, EVP Beach Volleyball event on Tybee and the Savannah Challenger tennis tournament at the Landings, the landscape of sports in our community has changed dramatically as a result of this organization.”

The GSSC will be celebrating throughout the year with special events and programming. For more information about the GSSC, contact Ben Wilder at 912.644.6414 and BWilder@VisitSavannah.com.

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