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Sports tours

Kentucky Derby, courtesy Sports Empire

Sports travel just may be a bank group’s key to opening the hearts of baby boomers as well as younger customers.

Taking groups to professional football, baseball and basketball games; golf tournaments; horse races; tennis matches; NASCAR races; and even rodeos is what many travel management companies do with finesse. And they all agreed that the thousands of people who join them at those beloved events throughout North America cannot be described as falling into any specific age group.

Sports fans of any age are often thrilled at the idea of just having a ticket — typically a premier ticket — to these sold-out events. Add the benefits of no-hassle transportation to and from the event, VIP treatment while on-site, guaranteed face time with a sports idol and the choice to spend as little or as much time in the host destinations as they like, and you have a compelling package for any sports lover.


Sports Empire
Tour operator Sports Empire takes groups to events as diverse as the Albuquerque International Balloon Festival, the Rose Bowl and the Rose Bowl Parade, and the Calgary Stampede.

“Our signature event is the Kentucky Derby,” said Suzanne Slavitter, vice president and co-owner. “On Derby morn, we have a local person, referred to as a ‘tout,’ who works there and is immersed in the horse racing culture come and talk to the group, explain how to get around and explain betting terms for those of us who are not experts at the betting window.”

Before taking groups to the Rose Parade, Sports Empire follows one float being built over a one-year period.

“Customers going to the parade can follow the progress before the event on a blog before coming and seeing the final result,” Slavitter said. “Once they get there, they can also go to the Rose Bowl if they so choose.

“We are very weekend oriented — our trips are usually three days — but travelers can always add on, no matter the event. Another example is the Balloon Festival: The base of the trip is three days, but it is a 10-day event, and folks may want to see Santa Fe while they are in the area,” she said.

Many major events surrounding professional sports are on Sports Empire’s agenda, including the oldest tennis tournament in the world, Wimbledon, a new offering for 2014. For an event that brings out the cowboy in attendees, Slavitter suggests the Calgary Stampede, touted as the greatest outdoor show on earth.

“This is an incredible fair, featuring music, fireworks and a high-paying stakes rodeo that happens every afternoon,” she said. “In the evening, they have chuck-wagon races that are such a hoot. The horses are lined up with covered wagons, and the earth shakes as they run around the course to vie for the $10,000 prize.”

Offering premium tickets and travel packages to some of this country’s largest sporting events, PrimeSport also boasts private suites and VIP experiences.

“We have official partnerships and exclusive access,” said Greg Norman, chief operating officer.
Those official partnerships include relationships with NCAA championships, 14 NFL teams and 10 college football games.

“We offer fans the opportunity to upgrade their experience with the full VIP treatment, and I think that’s something that is very unique in the sports travel and ticketing world right now,” Norman said.

“For instance, a fan who wants to attend the NCAA Men’s Final Four not only gets access to official tickets but can also enhance their game day with a VIP experience that can include open bar; premium food stations; live entertainment like Blues Traveler (2012) and Eddie Money (2013); and photo opportunities with NCAA legends like past celebrity guests Bill Walton, Kareen Abdul-Jabbar, Dominique Wilkins, Elgin Baylor and many more.”

Travel experiences, whether to the Rose Bowl, the Super Bowl or the Masters, typically range from one to seven days and include food and entertainment on-site and even a souvenir. As events are often held in locations that offer much more than just sports, PrimeSport is happy to add on additional tours for travelers who want to enjoy an immersive experience in those exciting destinations.