We’re often asked, should we develop a sports commission into our marketplace? What’s the difference between a sports commission, and convention and visitors bureau? I would like to refer all of you that are members of the NASC to this report which is available in the member’s only section of our website under Research and Reports where we carefully define the separate roles of a sports commission and convention and visitors bureau. We think that’s a great first place when you consider whether a sports commission is going to be right for your market or not.
But beyond that, once you’ve understood the fundamental differences between a sports commission and a CVB the big issue that you need to come down to is funding, because a sports commission, if it is not part of a convention and visitors bureau, is going to have to figure out what kinds of sources are in the community for sustainable funding to keep that organization alive. Clearly, if you decide that your sports commission or your sports authority is going to be a department of you convention and visitors bureau the funding with doubtless come primarily from the hotel tax that is levied in your marketplace. But if you’re an independent and we have about eighty sports commissions in the United States that are independent from convention and visitors bureaus, then funding becomes the single biggest issue. So, before you get started down the road of a sports commission establish the kind of budget you think you need and then address the real hard question of, can we raise that kind of money? Because there’ll often be 300, 400, 500 thousand dollars to fund a sports commission in a marketplace, when you stop to think of an annual budget in a convention and visitors bureau it’s easy to understand that a sports commission could require investments of that size. Now not all sports commissions are that big, some are much smaller, but it depends on the role that you expect the sports commission to play in your marketplace. Fundraising can come from corporate community members, and one of the key differentiators in your market is the number of headquarters organizations versus the number of branch offices. A branch office will never be able to support you as effectively as the home headquarters of an organization will, that is in your community and dedicated to what’s good and what’s growing in your community, and I think you can all understand that.
The room tax is a second possibility for funding; some sports commissions even though they’re independent of a convention bureau receive some portion of their funding from the convention bureau in recognition for the room nights that they are producing in the community. There are also some sports commissions in the United States that have become a line item in the city or county budget, where they actually receive a set amount of money each year. Of course they have to go back and fight for that money in every new budget process, but some public funding is available from time to time for communities.
Memberships, charging memberships for both corporations and individuals are ways in which some sports commissions have funded their operations, and also fundraisers. Whether it’s a series of luncheons, an annual sports banquet where you celebrate the value of sport in your community and bring in a high powered speaker, and try to raise substantial amounts of money. And never forget the fact that sports commission have the ability to put themselves in their own budgets, and when the day is done and the events over, an amount of money can be transferred from the event account to the sports commission account, in recognition for the contribution that the sports commission has made.
So, as we conclude, a couple of things to keep in mind: number one if you’re going to create a sports commission dedicated lines of funding are all important, and number two, sports commissions don’t always consider room nights as the single most essential reason for their being. Most sports commissions, frankly, and this is true in this report, and its pointed out here, and we tried to point it out very clearly, most sports commissions are thinking about quality of life issues for their community. They love room nights, but they are really looking for events that are going to make a difference in the lives of the people in their community, and not necessarily the events that will produce the largest number of room nights.
We hope these thoughts on sports commissions and convention and visitors bureaus are helpful to you. Certainly we’d be happy to answer your questions at anytime, just call us here in Cincinnati and we’d be happy to talk about it.
Video blog: Don Schumacher, CSEE, Executive Director
National Association of Sports Commissions
513.281.3888 – http://www.sportscommissions.org
Published July 14, 2014