Looking for Competition? Go Fish!

February 17, 2015

Events tend to be most successful when they 1) have a strong local following and 2) use the area’s resources effectively. If you’re fishing in Florida and have an affinity for tarpon, then the place to be is the gulf area of Boca Grande, where they stage the not-so-humbly titled “World’s Richest Tarpon Tournament.”

First, a little information about the tarpon: Tarpons might be the big-game prey of the fishing world. They are big, growing between four and eight feet, and when they’re hooked, they jump like a seven-foot forward in the NBA finals, which makes the fishing even more exciting. The Boca Grande/Punta Gorda/Fort Myers area of Florida’s Gulf Coast is the home to some of the best tarpon fishing around, hence the tarpon tournament, which will be held this year on June 4-6.

Organized now by the Boca Grande Chamber of Commerce, the “World’s Richest” Tarpon Tournament was originally called the Boca Grande Club Invitational when it was started in 1983 and was sponsored and run by the private Boca Grande Club located on the north end of Gasparilla Island.

In 1991, the Boca Grande Area Chamber of Commerce took it over renaming it the “World’s Richest” Tarpon Tournament and opening entries to the general public. Its mission is conservation and it’s a catch-and-release tournament.

At its height, the total purse of the “World’s Richest” exceeded $175,000 and anglers from all over the world traveled to Boca Grande to enter for a chance to win it. The “World’s Richest” perpetual trophy is on display at the Boca Grande Area Chamber of Commerce office and features the names of the winning team leaders for each year the tournament has been in existence.

The Boca Grande Fishing Guides Association took over the tournament and renamed it the Boca Grande Fishing Guides Association Tarpon Tournament which ran until 2011 until the Chamber took it over again.

And, of course, like most events, it’s grown to include music, kids’ events and more. In fact, it’s a central park of the big fishing business in southwest Florida, a business that it’s estimated to bring in more than $100 million annually from amateur anglers.

For an area that depends on the transient nature of tourism for its livelihood, the “World’s Richest Tarpon Tournament” is a way for the greater Boca Grande area to show off its resources while engaging the community in an event whose resources uniquely fit southwest Florida.

tarpon(photo courtesy www.lowetidecharters.com)

NASC Announces Dates for 2015 Fall Meetings

February 12, 2015

The NASC will hold its 2015 Fall Meetings in Colorado Springs, the home of most of our National Governing Bodies in Olympic and Pan American sports, along with many other event rights holders.

All functions will take place September 28-30 at the Antlers Hilton Colorado Springs, located in the heart of downtown. Our board will meet the afternoon of September 28. Our Fall 2015 CSEE Module will take place the morning of the 29th. Market segment meetings, Rapid RFP Review, and a reception with event owners will take place the afternoon of the 29th, and market segment meetings will conclude on the 30th. View the preliminary schedule.

This new event replaces our partnership with the USOC’s Olympic SportsLink conference, the rights to which were transferred to another event. In fact, our room block at the Antlers Hilton is part of the room block previously held by the USOC.

We offer all area event owners and NGBs a way to meet with interested cities in a cost-effective manner: all they will need do is come to the hotel the afternoon of the 29th, present their event opportunities in the Rapid RFP Review, attend a reception, and be home for dinner!

NASC Active members will also have the option to arrange private meetings with local event owners while in Colorado Springs.

Preliminary plans are to rotate this new event between Colorado Springs and Indianapolis. These cities are home to almost all of our NGBs plus the NCAA and many other prospects.

We will open registration later this spring.

The Sport of the Moment

February 9, 2015

Watching Tiger Woods’ struggles on the golf course so far in 2015 reminds us that Tiger’s heyday, in the early to mid-2000s, was the PGA Tour’s heyday as well.

As rights fees came up for television broadcasts, sponsor renewals and the like, the Tour was smart enough to cash in on the amazing popularity of watching Tiger play golf to bring in record rights fees and sponsorship deals.

Today, watching Tiger play golf is more an exercise in watching an accident—we know we shouldn’t look, but we do anyway. Not having a signature player dominating the PGA Tour, the Tour will say, is more interesting because many players have a chance to win.

But do we know these players the way we do Tiger?

Which brings us to the discussion of what’s the “hot” sport to sponsor, to get rights fees for, to bring to your city? Ten years ago, it may have been golf, whether professional or amateur. Over the last decade we’ve seen the explosion of youth lacrosse, fishing tournaments, even bowling (which is becoming bigger than ever on the high school level).

All this follows soccer’s foothold on youth activities, and youth baseball and softball will never go away. So what’s the right sport for you?

It’s tempting to go after the “hot” sport of the moment, but look at what your area can support and what’s popular as a recreational sport in your area. That will help you determine if your facilities are right, and whether you can entice enough volunteers to help during the event.

Because as the PGA Tour is learning, what was must-see TV 10 years ago, is becoming can’t-look-away TV.

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2015 Industry Trends

February 5, 2015

Going to talk today about some trends that we see in the industry in the coming year.  And I think one of the most interesting trends for those of us that have been in the sports commission, and visitor and convention bureau industries, is the fact that park and recreation departments are becoming increasingly interested in membership in the NASC.  I find that particularly interesting, personally because we’re discovering that many park and recreation department actually create, promote, and run their own events, which makes them in the final analysis perhaps even more similar to a sports commission in many cases than a convention and visitors bureau where in the latter case there may be a focus on room nights, which is something we are going to talk about in just a minute or two.  But we welcome additional park and recreation departments to our membership.  We are at something in the range of 20 departments now, and we will be taking some steps during the year to increase that number, because they bring a lot to the table in terms of the dialogue and they’re truly qualified as active members of our association, because they’re so involved with the production of their own events.  So that would be a first trend.

The second trend starts with a question; I wonder how many of us think, what would be the case in terms of room rebates if we didn’t have a focus on room nights?  I wonder if there isn’t a direct tie in between the emphasis that a destination places and the importance that a destination places on developing room nights through sports above and beyond all other considerations.  And if by doing that, that doesn’t encourage event owners to feel that not only can there be room rebates, but the room rebates that could perhaps overtime and with a change in destinations continue to go up.  I remember being surprised when rebates were in the five to ten dollar range; I am shocked that we have managed to get in the 30+ dollar range in some cases around the country.  So I think a one of the cost on a focus on room nights could very well be increasing room rebates.  And from that stand point I think it’s good to look back 20 years ago, when sports commissions were the primary way to bid on events.  These was a tremendous focus on quality of life.  Destinations were looking for events that were going to make something exciting happen in their communities, and yes television exposure was very important.  But in the final analysis doing things like having the USA Volleyball National Women’s Team come to your destination and play another international squad with no visitor spending, was a real focus of a sports commission.  And that kind of focus does not encourage event owners to pursue room rebates, let alone commissions.  Now one the major event owners in the United States, the NCAA, moved to a commission on all room nights for all NCAA National Championships, across all divisions in 2014.  That was a seismic shift and we’ll see how that works out for the NCAA and for the destinations.  And importantly for the very people that are attending these championships, which in the final analysis are the people, all of us are supposed to be more concerned about.

And then I think finally, there is a trend in our industry that has come up at the latter part of 2014, there is a shrinkage and or consolidation of some of the events that take place every year in the sports travel industry.  The United States Olympic Committee recently made a decision to assign the rights to the SportsLink congress to the Connect Sports people, and we’re have to see how that works out.  That is a not-for-profit transfer of rights to a for profit, I rather suspect that that’ll be reflected in the cost of attending that conference, but it’s a market driven economy and we’ll see what happens.

So for the coming year, we see more park and recreation departments getting engaged in the industry, we see this puzzle about room rebates and commissions continual need to be something that we all have to focus on, and finally there some shifts and changes in industry conferences.  I can tell you that the NASC has decided to keep its independence, but we are also going to attend each of the industry conferences this year.  Thanks for your attention.

 

To Ticket or not to Ticket

February 4, 2015

We’re all used to buying a ticket to a sports event, whether it’s basketball, football or even our kids’ high school games. But what about the every-day events with which you are involved? How many of them require tickets to enter? And why or why not?Featured image The genesis of this issue came from a discussion with colleagues who are involved in college sports. They are in the middle of deciding whether to stop requiring tickets for the women’s basketball games, as well as some of the “Olympic” sports like soccer, lacrosse, etc.

You’ve heard the arguments before: By making it a ticketed event, you are putting a “value” on the game. This event is worth something and if you have to pay to attend, then you have invested in actually attending the event. Once you show up, you’re likely to buy concessions, pay for parking and spend money that wouldn’t be spent if you stayed home.

Conversely, while it’s tempting to hand out free tickets to try to get bodies in the seats, the prospective attendees don’t have an investment in the event. If someone gives me a free ticket and I decide not to go, I don’t have a financial loss because I haven’t plunked down my $5. No concessions, no parking, no souvenir shopping.

Does your gymnastics event require a ticket? How about your weekend high school basketball shootout or your cheer competition? Of course, you’re always going to get family and close friends to attend, but does having a ticket (or not having a ticket) affect your walk-in attendance numbers?

Let us know about your ticketing policies and why or why not you require admission. Best practices help all of us put on better events. Post your comments on the NASC Facebook page.

News from NASC: Beth Hecquet Resigns

January 30, 2015
Don Schumacher, Executive Director of the NASC announced today that Beth Hecquet, Director of Meetings and Events, has resigned. “Beth has accepted another position here in Cincinnati outside our industry, and we will miss her and the many contributions she has made to the NASC since she was hired in 2002,” he stated.

Hecquet has overseen the growth of the NASC Sports Events Symposium from its tenth anniversary in 2002 through completion of the preparations for this year’s event in Milwaukee. “Beth Hecquet has been a valued employee and we wish her only the best as she pursues a new opportunity,” Schumacher concluded.

“Deflategate” and Sports

January 28, 2015

While we are heading into Super Bowl weekend, we should be talking about the game—instead, we’re talking about under inflated footballs, and who’s to blame.

We’re acting as if playing fast and loose with the rules is something new in sports. The old saying, “if you ain’t cheatin’ you ain’t tryin’” is said mostly in jest, but for some it’s too often a stain on their sports record.

In 2001 Danny Almonte was probably the most famous Little League pitcher in the country, throwing a solid 76 miles an hour and tossing a no-hitter in the Regional Finals to send his team from the Bronx to the Little League World Series. He then threw a perfect game during the Series and ended the series striking out 62 of the 72 batters he faced. Problem was, he was found to be 14-years-old during the Series, not the 12-years-old he was supposed to be.

Youth football isn’t immune to cheating allegations. A Tennessee youth football team was suspended, along with five coaches, for misreporting player’s weight before games. A certain weight means the player can’t run the ball or play certain positions so he doesn’t hurt smaller players. Once home video showed the coaches, still on the sidelines, the team was suspended from the league.

In fact, type in the name of just about any youth sport and add “cheating” to the search and you’re bound to find examples of bad behavior among players and/or coaches.

This controversy will be resolved, one way or the other, and the game will be played. But it shows you that no matter what the age or the sport, teams are always walking the edge, trying to get an advantage in the biggest games of the season.

Will it spoil your Super Bowl viewing? Let us know what you think on the NASC Facebook page.

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Timeless Ticket or Unique Crowdfunding?

January 20, 2015

The Milwaukee Brewers are making available to fans a deal they call the “Timeless Ticket.” In engraved brass, the over sized one-pound ticket will allow the ticket holder to attend any single game, anytime in the future.

So, you may ask, what’s the savings in that? A thousand dollars for one ticket?

Well, let’s say the Brewers make it to the World Series (remember, it’s a “Timeless Ticket” good for anytime in the future). Face value tickets are expensive enough to the postseason, and secondary market tickets can be outrageous. So, if you happen to have one of these Timeless Tickets, you can give the team a bit of notice and tell the front office you want to redeem your Timeless Ticket for a World Series game. Now, the cost doesn’t seem so out of line.

But wait! There’s more!

The team also says the package now includes ticket vouchers to attend nine additional Brewers regular season home games of the owner’s choice, excluding Opening Day and Postseason.

As of last week, the team had sold 240 Timeless Tickets. Multiply that by a thousand, and yes, you get $240,000 in the bank.

The tickets may become treasured heirlooms to be passed down among Brewer fans, or indeed they may be cashed in for a postseason game. Either way, the Brewers have cash up front for a game that may not be played for decades, and fans get a personalized memento from their favorite team.

And oh yes, they get lots of publicity for the team.

In a time where every sports entity is looking for creative ways to sell tickets to their events, the Brewers have come up with one that can pay off now for them, and later for their fans.

What do you think? Would something like this work in your organization? Give your opinion on the NASC Facebook page and let us know how you feel.

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Jackie Reau
Game Day Communications
jreau@gamedaypr.com
www.gamedaypr.com
LinkedIn: JackieReau
Facebook: JackieReau
Twitter:@JackieReau

When Society and Sports Collide

January 19, 2015

In the wake of the social unrest we’ve seen in Ferguson, Cleveland and New York, athletes have used their national platforms to express their opinions on the incidents—see the St. Louis Rams’ players coming out for team introductions with the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” pose.

This expression has reached basketball, where professional and college players alike have worn “I Can’t Breathe” shirts, signifying the last words of Eric Gardner, the New York man who died after an officer put him in a chokehold.I cant breathe

And now, a high school basketball tournament in Northern California has been included in the conversation, after a school scheduled to play in the tournament was disinvited because of concerns its players would wear “I Can’t Breathe” shirts during warm-ups.

The athletic director at Mendocino High School was told that neither the boy’s nor the girl’s team would be allowed to participate in the tournament if they wore the shirts.

The boys were reinstated after all but one player agreed not to wear the shirt. Too few girl players agreed to not wear the shirts and were not allowed to play.

No surprise here: The parent of the one boy who decided to sit out the holiday tournament has taken the issue to the American Civil Liberties Union. In a written statement, the principal of the host school, Fort Bragg High School, said the school administrators respected the Mendocino teams “for paying attention to what is going on in the world around them” and that the shirts were being banned as a security precaution.

This isn’t the first, and won’t be the last, time where the world of amateur and youth sports will collide with First Amendment rights and the desire of young athletes to express themselves.

Have you run into similar issues with your events or teams? If so how did you handle the issue and what advice would you have other rights holders or event planners on how to deal with the issue? Give us your thoughts on our NASC Facebook page. We always welcome comments on best practices.

Boston in 2024?

January 12, 2015

Last week, the U.S. Olympic Committee selected Boston as the city to represent the American bid for the 2024 Olympic Summer Games. Since there hasn’t been a Summer Games staged in the United States since Atlanta in 1996 and no Olympics since 2002 Salt Lake City, much is riding on this bid.Boston 2024

After the Chicago bid—and almost immediate rejection of that bid by the International Olympic Committee—the United States is looking to make this bid count. The Boston bid seems to be more of a cost-efficient proposal, rather than major spending on new venues as has been the norm in the last few bids.

The 2024 Olympics could include field hockey events at Harvard Stadium, archery at MIT and beach volleyball on the Boston Common, among other venues, taking advantage of the region’s many universities and public spaces.

In choosing Boston, the USOC bypassed Washington D.C. and two other cities, including

San Francisco and Los Angeles. L.A. is the host of the next US. Olympic Marathon Trials, and the awarding of that bid was seen as a move to bolster its Summer Olympics bid effort.

The Washington D.C. bid, which was led by local businessman Russ Ramsey and co-chaired by Wizards and Capitals owner Ted Leonsis, included many of the area’s most prominent business and political leaders. It focused on constructing a new stadium on the site of RFK Stadium and an Olympic Village and tennis center along the Anacostia River that organizers hoped would help revitalize some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods.

The IOC will make its final decision on a host city in September 2017. Other candidates could include Rome, Paris, the German cities of Hamburg or Berlin, and Durban or Johannesburg from South Africa.

A Durban or Johannesburg bid could lead to the first Olympics in Africa. A Paris Olympics would have the advantage of commemorating the 100th anniversary of the 1924 Games. Like Boston, Hamburg has never staged a Summer Games and Rome hasn’t hosted since 1960.

But unlike the failed Chicago bid, the U.S. bid seems to have a better chance of having its representative city be chosen for the Olympics. The USOC has worked hard to mend hard feelings and relationships between its group and the IOC, and sticky issues like money (isn’t it always about money?) and rights fees over broadcasts have been smoothed out.

Congratulations to Boston—now let’s figure out how traffic will be moving during the games on those narrow streets!


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