How to Select the Perfect Host City for Your Next Sporting Event

The perfect host city can make a critical difference in your sporting event. A city’s venues are important, but its planning services/offerings and relationship with you, the sporting event planner, are what create the foundation for a successful event. Work with cities that look for mutual benefit and become a partner in your success.

When you build a relationship of mutual satisfaction, you have a partner in marketing, planning, recruiting, and so many more areas.

But how do you find a host city that will help you with these things? As one of the largest beneficiaries of your event, you may assume all host cities are the same in what they offer outside of venues. That is not the case.

There are very particular experiences, offerings, and services you should look for when auditioning host cities.

Here are a few things to consider:

Experience with Sporting Events

Finding a host city that has experience with sporting events or competitions benefits you in many ways. Sports experience means they likely have the facilities/infrastructure, knowledge, community involvement, and lodging necessary for the best sporting competitions.

Experience with the type and season of your sport is another important factor. Having extensive experience in skiing events, for instance, won’t help your soccer tournament.

Speak to host city planners to get a better understanding of the size, season, and sport they are used to hosting. Whenever possible, inquire about the city’s general fandom. Is there a strong base of fans for your sport? (A hockey event will be better attended in Ottawa than Osaka.)

Don’t be shy to ask them the particulars of their involvement in areas like marketing, ticket sales and promotion, or anything else they might be willing to do.

Look for a host city that offers sports services as part of their assistance package. Ask about their pedigree. Some cities may even be award-winning in their efforts. For instance, Québec City was voted 2nd best Canadian sporting destination by the Canadian Sports Tourism Alliance (CSTA) in its inaugural Global Sports Impact (GSI) Canada Index in 2019.

Québec City was also nationally-recognized for its experience as host for past major events, such as the Red Bull Crashed Ice (over 10 years), 2012 SportAccord Convention, and the Conversation 2015: Women in Sports.

A seasoned sports host city can help you with a range of event planning challenges:

  • Bid package preparation and support.
  • Site inspections and coordination.
  • Support for your event, including local vendor suggestions.
  • Personalized support. Sports events vary greatly. You need individualized suggestions and support.
  • Promotional tools.

Québec City Business Destination, for instance, assigns a personalized account executive to your team, and you always have access to promotional tools like photos, videos, logos, PowerPoints, and other documents that can have a powerful impact on your sporting event marketing.

Enjoyable Spaces

Let’s face it, you likely need additional space (outside of hotel rooms and venues) for your sporting event. You may need rooms for press conferences, meet and greets, sponsor lounges, and other spots like training/workout facilities that are an essential part of your sporting event or competition.

Québec City’s convention centre offers close to 300,000 square feet of meeting space, and the city in general offers a range of venues from intimate country estates to large downtown hotel brands.

The city’s two largest venues are only ten minutes apart, so the facilities of the Québec City Convention Centre and the Exhibition Centre can be combined for hundreds of thousands of square feet of space between them alone.

There are also many special spaces catering to arts and history, heritage, military, wellness, and many other venues that can help you set an additional theme for your sporting event or special ceremony. Plus, Québec offers a respected destination team and sports event account professional who can help you find the right spaces for your needs.

Don’t forget to look into the outside spaces where your athletes can compete and sponsors can offer crowd-drawing demonstrations. Québec draws athletes with the opportunity to go head to head on the Plains of Abraham, which is an urban park in the heart of the city.

The St. Lawrence River not only makes a nice backdrop for sporting activities, it’s also an amazing spot for kayaking and canoeing. In the winter, snowboarders and skiers amaze crowds with gravity-defying tricks from the giant jump at Îlot Fleurie.

Sports event planners also need the flexibility of different configurations for different levels of play, and Québec City can accommodate that. For instance, the Pavillon de la Jeunesse (Amphitheatre) not only has 4,000 stadium-style seats and four dressing rooms for team competitions, but it also offers a skating rink that can be converted from Olympic to North American dimensions.

Seasonal flexibility can also allow you to use a host city for multiple events throughout the year. For instance, snow skiing events (including cross country) might use Mont Sainte-Anne Ski Resort in Quebec during winter months and a mountain bike organization can host its events there in warmer weather. Versatility of place can be a real bonus.

Recurring Events

Just as you might read a review before booking a vacation or buying a product, look at the prospect of the host city’s retention rate of returning sporting events. This is not a foolproof measure as some events rotate host cities each year, but for those that can and do return, it’s a good indication that the event planners are satisfied with the outcomes and the relationships.

Perform several quick searches on the internet to see what past attendees and organizers have said about your potential host city. Read testimonials. What words come up over and over? Are these the types of comments you want associated with your event?

Québec City boasts several high-profile sporting events that return each year. They include: Coupe Banque Nationale (Tennis), the International Mountain Bike Festival, the Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec City (a popular leg of the UCI World Tour), and the Jamboree FIS Freestyle Ski and Snowboard event.

Active Audiences

Sports event planners know that a successful sporting event attracts an active audience that likely wants to participate in some of the sports they’re watching. For instance, attendees at a ski competition might want to hit the slopes afterward. That’s why finding a host city that has a lot of public spaces and arenas can be a big hit with the crowds attending your event.

It also helps to have a host city with an active audience that loves sports. While you can count on people traveling to your destination, local attendees are already there and can have a big effect on the success of your event. Their enthusiasm, word of mouth marketing, and attendance at the pre-events make a difference.

Québec City is a year-round sporting paradise. Not only does it have a number of professional sporting venues, it offers distinctive green space throughout the city and just minutes from downtown.

Québec City has an energized audience of sports and outdoor lovers. They enjoy attending and volunteering at events. Some of the ‘hottest’ cold-weather activities in Québec revolve around sports.

Locals (and visitors) love the Québec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament, the Snow Pentathlon, The Ice Canoe Race Grand Defi Victor, and the Snowboard Jamboree. Québec City also hosts the International Karate Championships, the Defi Escaliers, and the Québec City Marathon, in addition to the rotating events and those mentioned earlier.

Festivals and Events

Hosting in a city with many festivals and events (not to mention tourist attractions and things to do) gives your sporting audience plenty of entertainment and opportunities after the competitions.

Festivals and events can also make your sports competition different from others as it will take on the flavor of your host city and the people there. Attendees will extend trips, which provides you with the opportunity for upsells, additional activities, and providing a greater experience.

Québec City is alive year-round with exciting things to do, festivals to attend, and experiences you won’t find elsewhere. From the Ice Hotel to the Winter Carnival, ice fishing at the Village Nordik to St. Patrick’s Day, cold weather is anything but boring. There’s the Wendake International Pow Wow, a German Christmas Market, and a summer festival to name a few.

Each of these activities is unique to Québec and is a reflection of the culture and history of the area. Working with a host city that offers memorable experiences and opportunities provides another reason to attend.

Green Ways

While not a requirement, many athletes prefer a greener lifestyle with less processed foods and a cleaner environment. It is not surprising, then, that they might enjoy going to a host city that makes that sort of healthy lifestyle choice and environmentalism a priority. Québec boasts over 20 green buildings including the Québec City Convention Centre. It also is a leader in the farm-to-table movement, which the foodies in your audience will enjoy.


Before selecting a host city for your sporting event, consider more than just the venues and sporting arenas available. Think about the additional spaces available, the marketing, planning, and experience of the host. You’re looking for a city that makes a good partner in your success.

Québec Meeting and Conventions can help you find the pieces you need and even help with the ones you didn’t know you needed. Contact them today for information about planning your next sporting event.

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