George Linley has been a member of the Palm Beach County Sports Commission for more than 19 years and its executive director for nearly 12 years. Under his leadership as executive director, the Palm Beach County Sports Commission has significantly grown the sports landscape and sports tourism impacts in The Palm Beaches. Before the pandemic, the Sports Commission hosted 179 events, which generated nearly 260,000 hotel room nights and over $215 million of visitor spending for Palm Beach County. This represented the largest collection of events and hotel room nights reported by this Sports Commission since its inception. Sports-related visitors and room nights grew by 40 percent in a five-year span.
The Sports Commission, similar to the global sports industry, was significantly challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, its resiliency prevailed and the commission confronted the challenge of the pandemic by creating a return-to-play strategy and leading a full comeback of sports events in The Palm Beaches by the spring and summer of 2021. By the end of 2021, the Sports Commission hosted 149 events, attracting 700,000+ sports-related attendees and over 230,000 hotel room nights resulting in $50 million of hotel revenue. The Sports Commission is poised to surpass its sports tourism production heights in 2022.