The Terrebonne Economic Development Agency plans to create a separate faction that will handle the demand for sports tourism in Terrebonne Parish.

TEDA CEO Matt Rookard presented the agency’s plan to the Parish Council tonight, asking for its support.

“Sports tourism is a $15 billion a year industry,” Rookard said, adding that youth sports have seen a 55 percent growth since 2010.

With large and small markets emerging as sport tourism hubs throughout the state, Rookard said there is a gap in the mid-size market, a market like Houma.

The agency is working to create a sub-organization, called HT Sports, that will work to bring in large tournaments to the parish using existing municipal and recreation facilities. Like TEDA, HT Sports would be a public entity, paid for by parish money.

The Bayou Country Sports Park, which is under control of Recreation District 2-3, is one area that could benefit from the service, Rookard said.

Spending millions of dollars on a facility of that caliber will require new revenue, and that can be done with more efforts to recruit sporting events in the Houma area, he said.

A recent Wahoo Softball Tournament hosted in Houma brought in 25 teams, nine of which were local. Local hotels booked 200 rooms for two nights. In total, the tournament generated an estimated $26,000 in new tax revenue, Rookard said.

These events can use existing resources, like the Houma-Terrebonne Civic Center and the Houma Auditorium, to host some indoor sporting events. But the auditorium can also be used in conjunction with the sports parks by holding awards ceremonies after an event, or serving as a central registration point, Rookard said.

The organization is looking to hire a director and form a sub-committee to oversee these operations and other currently missed opportunities, like large sponsorship packages.

On average, a sports-related event generates about $9.75 a day in new taxes from local residents and $46.16 a day from visitors.

TEDA is also looking to gain operational control of the Bayou Country Sports Park through a three-party agreement.

Many of the council members said Terrebonne’s recreation districts were not designed to handle these large parks.

“People don’t expect recreation districts to be economic development arms,” Councilman Darrin Guidry said.

Rookard said TEDA plans to move forward with plans to establish HT Sports but will seek the council’s support in future negotiations over the Bayou Country Sports Park.

Staff Writer Julia Arenstam can be reached at 448-7636 or julia.arenstam@houmatoday.com. Follow her on Twitter at @gingerale214.