There’s nothing that brings people together—family, friends and strangers alike—quite like sporting events. As we know too well, this closeness and camaraderie came to a screeching halt when the pandemic began, not only preventing fans from watching their favorite amateur and professional sports live, but dealing a disastrous blow to the communities where these events are held.

But things will soon be turning around for one location in California: Orange County. More popularly known as The OC.

Orange County Sports Commission (OCSC), a countywide coalition of DMOs and partners that books and promotes sporting events, and which includes Visit Anaheim, Visit Huntington Beach and Knott’s Berry Farm, has confirmed 16 sporting events, amateur and professional, for 2021. These events are anticipated to draw more than 155,000 attendees and bring $53 million into the local community.

Eleven of these events were booked since the pandemic started in 2020, demonstrating that strong demand for events is unwavering.

“Our team continues to work efficiently to bring new events to the destination and remains focused on supporting our local tourism industry in its recovery efforts both now and later,” says Jay Burress, president of OCSC. “For 2021, we hope these confirmed sports events will help jumpstart our economy and make it possible for local hotels, restaurants and other tourism businesses to start rehiring their workforce.”

The OC’s first such event, United Spirit Association’s Varsity USA Spirit & Dance Nationals, is scheduled to take place April 30–May 2. Other confirmed dates will bring USA Curling’s Curling Night in America, ESPN Event’s Wooden Legacy Basketball Tournament and USA Curling Mixed Doubles Olympic Trials.

“OCSC has enabled our region to usher in a new era of opportunity and unity for sporting events in Orange County,” says Tim Ryan, chairman of OCSC. “This commission is allowing Orange County to emerge as a premier sports destination and is paving the way to capitalize on the number of different world-class venues in the area.”

A total of 22 sporting events have been confirmed by OCSC for future years in Orange County, with a projected economic impact of more than $60 million.