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“Driving Florida’s Sports Economy” | Angela Adams Suggs, President and CEO of the Florida Sports Foundation | November 7, 2023

“It’s not just professional sports…but also includes our recreational, our leisure sports, our amateur sports, and our collegiate landscape.”

Angela Adams Suggs, President and CEO of the Florida Sports Foundation shares the growing $70 billion economic impact of Florida’s sports industry before a November 7, 2023 meeting of The Economic Club of Florida.

Show notes

Angela Adams Suggs told the Club that Florida is where the world comes to play.

“Florida’s economic impact is $70 billion dollars plus annually through amateur, recreational, professional and leisure sport,” she said.

While major professional sports teams are important with three NFL teams, two NHL teams, two NBA teams, and two MLS teams, most of that number comes from non-major league activities, such as:

  • Jump rope competitions
  • Horseshoe events
  • Softball tournaments
  • Dance competitions
  • Pickleball tournaments
  • Shuffleboard tournaments

In addition, Orlando will be hosting thousands of volleyball players for a tournament in July 2024.

She added, “More than sixteen-million people come to eleven-hundred golf courses.  Twelve percent of the United States golf economy is right here in the state of Florida.”

Plus, the state’s thousand miles of coastline, more than twelve-thousand miles of rivers and streams, and eight-thousand lakes attract fishermen year-round.

Fifteen major league baseball teams hold their spring training in Florida’s Grapefruit League.  Suggs said many of them have renewed contracts, and many of the stadiums and facilities have recently undergone renovations.  The state hosts the Governor’s Baseball Dinner annually at various spring training sites.

In all, sporting activities provide nearly a million jobs statewide. 

“We need traffic control.  We need for people to come out and keep these parks clean.  We need ticket takers.  We need folks that are going to come in and print up all of the great signage that you see.  For our road races, you need people that are going to put barricades out.  You need people on our softball diamonds that are going to drag the fields,” Suggs said.

While hurricane season means the Summer Olympics probably will not be hosted in the state, there are openings in other areas.

“While we may not host the Games in Florida, we definitely are primed and ready to create opportunities for preparation to have a huge impact through the games,” she said.  She pointed out that a lot of nations have their Olympic teams train in various Florida communities.

Suggs said, “We are the first state with this idea to have an organization like the Florida Sports Foundation.  Thirty-five years later, no other state has a nonprofit that is assigned to represent to the world the opportunities that exist here.”

One way the organization promotes the state internationally is through the Florida Sports Summit.  It invites event planners to a convention where they can see what the various Florida communities have to offer.

Suggs also discussed the specialty license plate program.  It features plates for the state’s major professional sports teams, as well as NASCAR, Play Tennis, and Orlando Soccer.  The organizations give the state name and image rights, and the state then pays a percentage of the earnings to each team’s charities.

“But the majority of those funds go to a $24 billion economic impact as it relates to supporting these communities with additional funds to help recruit and retain these amazing events that come to our state,” she told the Club.

Florida is indeed where the world comes to play.

(You can also view the entire Club meeting on YouTube.)

Links and Resources Mentioned in this Episode

The Economic Club of Florida podcast, provides an extended platform for discussion to educate, engage, and empower citizens on important economic, political, and social issues. Based in Tallahassee, Florida, the Club has featured distinguished speakers on engaging topics of national importance since 1977. To learn more, including how to become a member, visit or call 850-224-0711 or email [email protected].

Date of recording: 11/07/23