The World Food Championships (WFC) has named Orange Beach, Alabama, as the location of its 2016 Ultimate Food Fight tournament.
Celebrating its fifth anniversary this year, the tournament will be held Nov. 8-15 at The Wharf, a resort destination with a full-service marina, retail, dining and entertainment options. The Wharf is anchored by a 10,000-seat amphitheater and a multi-use event center.
“Our biggest goal was to bring all nine of our championships, which require about 300,000 square feet of open space into one arena,” said WFC CEO Mike McCloud.
“We finally found an ideal place to do that at The Wharf, with a host of logistical benefits that include better facility access, infrastructure, parking capacity and consumer/tourism appeal. This is going to be a huge benefit to our competitors, our sponsors, our judges and our staff as we continue to build out the best food sport event in the world.”
McCloud said the opportunity for consumer entertainment at The Wharf, backed by multiple tourism and city commitments to help support the growth of WFC, was key to inking a multi-year agreement with Orange Beach.
“The past 45 days of discussions and planning have been very encouraging to me,” McCloud said. “The partnership approach already demonstrated by all of the parties involved—from culinary and tourism to city and venue—proves to me that we are now able to lay down roots for many years go come.”
WFC was created in 2012 and has experienced rapid growth ever since. From a 30 percent annualized growth in competitors to its second TV series to be aired this summer on Destination America, WFC has evolved into a yearlong quest for thousands of competitors and foodies as well as a marketing platform for innovative companies.
This year’s tournament is expected to eclipse 400 teams from 20 countries and 45 states vying for a part of the $350,000 prize purse and its industry-leading $100,000 grand prize.
The direct economic impact of WFC on central Florida in 2015 surpassed $2 million, while more than 3,500 room nights were booked, and independent media monitoring service BurrellesLuce reported a national media value of $26 million.
A three-bedroom beachfront condo in Gulf Shores or Orange Beach would be a perfect home base for visitors during the tournament. Another option is condos at The Wharf, where guests have access to all the amenities of the entertainment district.