Feb 1, 2023 - Sports

Columbus celebrates Girls and Women in Sports Day

Players from the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team hug in a huddle after scoring a goal

Abby Wambach, No. 20, celebrates scoring against North Korea during the 2003 FIFA Women's World Cup at Historic Crew Stadium. The U.S. won 3-0. Photo: Mark Lyons/Getty Images

Arike Ogunbowale shocked the basketball world when she sank a clutch shot at Nationwide Arena to put her Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the 2018 national championship game.

State of play: That epic Final Four was a triumph for local organizers working to make Central Ohio a premier hub for women's sports.

  • The Greater Columbus Sports Commission celebrates National Girls and Women in Sports Day today by both reflecting on championship events the city has hosted and looking ahead to those planned for the coming years.

Why it matters: These high-profile events inspire the next generation of athletes who get to see world-class competitors up close.

  • And they have proved to be a major tourism and economic draw for the city.

What they're saying: "We know we can roll out the red carpet better than anyone," Linda Logan, longtime executive director for the Sports Commission, tells Axios.

  • "We're attracting the best coaches and best athletes to our community because of these programs, because of these opportunities."

By the numbers: The 2018 women's Final Four games generated $21.7 million in visitor spending, per data the Greater Columbus Sports Commission shared with Axios.

  • The majority (60%) of fans in town to see Connecticut, Notre Dame, Mississippi State and Louisville were first-time visitors to Ohio.
  • Columbus has also hosted women's collegiate championships in bowling and volleyball.

Flashback: The most significant women's sporting event we've hosted may have been in 2003, when several Women's World Cup matches were played at Historic Crew Stadium.

Yes, but: We're is more than just a worthy neutral site for athletic competitions. Our area has its own bragging rights, too.

What's next: Columbus is already gearing up to host the following major events in women's sports:

  • April 28-30: USA Volleyball Ohio Valley Region junior volleyball championships
  • 2024: Division III Women's Basketball Championship, National Collegiate Fencing Championship
  • 2025: Division I Women's Golf Championships (regionals)
  • 2026: National Collegiate Rifle Championships
  • 2027: Division I Women's Final Four
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