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Escambia County’s Excellence in Sports Tourism

The Florida Recreation and Park Association Awards has awarded Escambia County Parks and Recreation as the 2023 Excellence in Sports Tourism Award: Small Market Award recipient. This award is given in honor of the outstanding work done by Escambia County Parks and Recreation to advance the park and recreation profession in the area of sports tourism.


Escambia County Parks and Recreation maintains property throughout the county, including the athletic fields and parks, neighborhood and open space parks, community centers, beach access parks, boat launch areas and the Equestrian Center. The department partners with Pensacola Sports, the local sports marketing organization, to attract and retain events that fit the community. Together, Parks and Recreation and Pensacola Sports bring sports teams nationwide to compete on Escambia County-owned fields. Traditional sports events, including lacrosse, youth soccer and baseball, and intramural college flag football, have contributed to the economic impact, marking Escambia County as a true sports destination. In 2022, the Equestrian Center hosted 51 events, generating over $6 million of local economic impact.

Additionally, the Southeastern Conference hosted the SEC Women’s Soccer Tournament at the Escambia County-owned Ashton Brosnaham Soccer Complex in October 2022 after a previous run in Orange Beach, Ala. The week-long event saw record-breaking attendance numbers and generated over $2.5 million in local economic impact. Parks and Recreation staff worked tirelessly to welcome players and visitors, prepping the field prior to the tournament and maintaining the grounds daily.

“On behalf of the Escambia County Board of County Commissioners and the Escambia County Parks and Recreation Department, we would like to thank the Florida Recreation and Parks Association, as we are honored and thankful to be selected for the Small Market Excellence in Sports Tourism Award,” said Parks and Recreation Director Michael Rhodes. “We would also like to thank our teammate and partner, Pensacola Sports, for nominating our department for this award and our state leadership for their understanding of parks and sports’ role in quality of life. Over the last decade, our area has become a home for many diverse sporting events. We could not make Escambia County a sports destination without everyone’s support. Thank you, again, for this award.”

The Florida Recreation and Park Association annually awards park and recreation agencies, employees, volunteers and partners that have made an impact on their community. Nominees must submit information and details supporting the nomination and a volunteer committee made up of their peers reviews and rates the submissions. The FRPA Awards presentation takes place at the Annual FRPA Conference in August. Winners are presented with a plaque and recognition through the FRPA Journal. More information on the Awards Program can be found at frpa.org/awards.

About the Florida Recreation and Park Association 

The Florida Recreation and Park Association (FRPA) was established in 1942 as an organization dedicated to the promotion, preservation, advancement, and advocacy of the Parks and Recreation profession. FRPA is directed by a volunteer Board of Directors and an Executive office located in Tallahassee, FL. Members are professionals working for federal, state and local park, recreation department and leisure service agencies throughout the state of Florida. For more information visit frpa.org. Follow FRPA on Twitter and Facebook.