Archive for January, 2011

Now Is The Time For Collaboration In Sports

January 24, 2011

All For One Creative Leadership

As leaders of our organizations during trying economic times, we are all searching for new and effective ways to do more with less.  The need to truly leverage resources and exploit the expertise of our partners has never been as important as it is today.  In order to get all that we can from the assets and relationships we each have, a  collaborative mentality must prevail.

A famous researcher once defined a leader as one “who creates a unified purpose of the team regardless of individual aspirations”.  This is what we must do for our organizations to make a difference in our communities.  We must set aside singular goals for the greater good, all the time, every day.

Collaboration in Sports

The sports commission world has grown in leaps and bounds over the past decade.  Ten years ago there were roughly 100 members of the National Association of Sports Commissions, today there are more than 500.  As the sports tourism landscape has become more competitive, and resources have become harder to come by, many sports commissions are leading new and creative partnerships.

The San Diego Sports Commission recently merged with the San Diego Hall of Champions in an effort to better align community resources.  This merger has led to a unified sales effort with their area convention bureau (ConVis) where all sports sales efforts are now being led by the sports commission.  Further, the sports commission is collaborating with the San Diego Padres to actually produce many of the Padres’ youth programs for the team.  This allows the sports commission to enhance their brand by aligning with the Padres, and gives the Padres more time to leverage the sports commission’s community reach.  Each of these examples in San Diego are collaborations that increase community value with less redundancies and will in the end save resources.

In Dallas there is a movement afoot for the North Texas Super Bowl Host Committee to fund a regional sports commission after this year’s big game.  This effort involved 12 area convention bureaus working in partnership to help formulate a unified regional organization.  Historically “legacy” efforts for mega events like this lead to new sports facilities or youth sports programs being created, not necessarily something that will drive future economic impact.  This legacy vision of the host committee (creating a sports commission) will allow the area to continue to drive tourism dollars to the area for years to come.

In two markets (Cleveland and Tulsa), there have been leadership mergers between the local sports commissions and their convention bureaus.  In both cases, the chief executive serves as the leader of both the CVB and the sports commission.  This new leadership structure should give greater efficiencies of work product and streamline communications between the two groups.  Again, examples of combining to extend limited resources while enhancing the organization’s contributions to their communities.

Our organization, the Phoenix Regional Sports Commission, has also recently engaged our partners in some unique new programs.  This year, amid budget cuts that would shut down several of our major youth sports complexes, the sports commission gathered the key stakeholders for those facilities to develop a new funding mechanism.  The result was a $210,000 plan that covered five different revenue streams from four different user groups to keep the venues on line and able to host national tournaments.  In 2009, the commission was part of an effort to unify the sales efforts of the various sports tourism partners in Arizona.  The result was the birth of the Arizona Sports Alliance, a coordinated sales partnership between five convention bureaus, the sports commission, area hotels, and sporting venues.  The Alliance has allowed us to share leads to maximize sales, and has led to cost savings on outreach programs such as trade show booth fees and FAM tours.  More recently, the commission has found success in sharing resources and infrastructure for major national tournaments.  We have been able to partner with national governing bodies hosting events in our area to purchase items that usually have to be rented (such as benches, sound systems, and pop-up tents).  Not only have we been able to save on future rentals for our partners when they return to the area, but we are also able to use that infrastructure as enhancements for other rights holders that we are soliciting.

Transforming Communities

James MacGregor Burns said that we must not treat leadership as a thing, but view it as a series of relationships.  As the custodians of sports for our communities, we must take heed of Burns’ theory.  Relationships are critical to future success.  More specifically, our fortunes will be enhanced through collaborations that decrease redundancies, allow us to stretch the dollar, and grow our businesses.  This will, in turn, enhance the quality of life in our communities.

The coming year will provide each of us with the opportunity to partner.  Windows will open to join forces with others to benefit for our cities and our organizations.  New out of the box concepts will arise that could change the face of our communities.  The question we must ask ourselves as leaders is this: when these opportunities arise, will we have the relationships necessary to lead?

Jon Schmieder Jon Schmieder, CSEE, is the President of the Phoenix Regional Sports Commission and Chairman of the National Association of Sports Commissions.


Gathering Community Support for Major Events

January 3, 2011

Congratulations! – You have received an RFP for a large event that is going to need municipal venues, public safety, volunteers and so much more.  This is an event that can have a large impact on your community financially and an impact on services.  Now the real work begins.

In Rhode Island, we routinely engage our local and state officials before we submit any major bids that may require public services.  The “Ocean State” hosts several events that take place not only by our scenic beaches but also in public parks, roadways and cityscapes.  Having several marathons, half-marathons, triathlons and bike races can do a number on your public safety employees, so it is best to engage them early and often throughout the entire process.

Your event will be successful for you and the community when proper planning is followed from the start to finish.  Even if your event hits some snags on the day(s) of your event, it will be handled well if everyone was well informed form the onset.

If your community plans on hosting public events like fairs, festivals, concerts and sporting events, it is often best to begin with your municipal and state officials at the onset of the process, as opposed to the end.  We have always found it works better when you talk to police, rescue, traffic engineering and park officials to see if certain large scale events are a good fit for the community.

Sometimes these large events can unfortunately displace community events or cause quality of life concerns – things you may not immediately think of as you are polishing that proposal.  These speed bumps include (but are certainly not limited to) church services, normal traffic flow and on-street parking for local businesses.

Here in Rhode Island, we encourage new and annual events to send notices to neighborhoods by flyer or newspaper ads to notify residents of hours of operations, street closures, parking bans, etc., so residents have time to plan their movement on event days.  You do not want to alienate your community.  Instead, engage them and win them over as supporters, partners and eventually champions for your event.

When your event is well planned and thought out you are more apt to have the support of local residents and businesses as well as that of your visiting families.

Following this, you will also want to make sure you know what permits you need.  These may include venues, police, fire marshal, traffic engineering, parking, health department, food service standards, liquor and others.

Always be sure to check local event calendars to make sure your event will not interfere with other events.  Most cities will have more than one event taking place on a given weekend.  Find a date where your event may compliment another.

Last year in Providence, for example, the city played host to the first round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament over St. Patrick’s Day.  Providence annually holds a major St. Patrick’s Day Parade and 5K road race.  Fortunately, the events did not take place on the same streets and they actually complimented each other very well.

The road race and parade took place on Saturday morning and the games were held in the afternoon and evening.  The downtown eateries and watering holes had a great flow of customers throughout the day and Providence was booming with visitors, fans, and good cheer.  We worked in tandem with public officials from the start of the process and held regular meetings to ensure a festive and safe day in Providence.

Plan early and work with your local officials often and this will help ensure a successful event.

Game on.

John Gibbons
Executive Director
Rhode Island Sports Commission

Gibbons_small John V. Gibbons is the Executive Director of the Rhode Island Sports Commission a subsidiary of the Providence Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau.  He oversees the sports and competitions market for the State of Rhode Island.  He is a member of the NASC Mentoring Member Committee.

John has over twenty eight years experience in the hospitality industry.