Archive for June, 2011

Recognizing Minor League Sports For What They Are

June 24, 2011

Many cities have been approached to provide all or part of the cost of new stadiums and arenas for minor league professional sports. Baseball, hockey, indoor soccer and arena football are the primary tenants. One of the best quotes I have ever seen was this… “There are at least two things owners of franchises want… new stadiums and someone to pay for them!”

This is easy enough to understand, and prior to the economic downturn many communities stepped forward to provide necessary funding. Many did so to improve the quality of life for residents and/or to revitalize a part of downtown. Dayton has been an excellent example. Fifth Third Field is in downtown Dayton. The Dayton Dragons are the Class A affiliate of our Cincinnati Reds, and are less than fifty miles from downtown Cincinnati. They have also sold a remarkable number of tickets since their inception.

Many of you may be thinking “Sure, but how many ticket buyers stayed overnight?” That was not the point. The primary strategy was to provide the spark that would get residents downtown after work, and it has been tremendously successful. Fifth Third Field is also one of the first stops for FAM Tours.

Imagine, however, if the project was based upon projections of economic impact. Because you are a member of our association you know economic impact can only come from visitor spending. If I get the idea to go to Dayton to see one of the Reds working through rehab or to see one of the newest potential big leaguers I do so as a day–tripper. I park my car, buy some tickets and some concessions and go home to my own bed. Not much in the way of visitor spending.

What about the chances of a minor league hockey team producing visitor spending? If you have heard of the Chance Brothers (Fat, Slim, and None) you have the answer. So, that arena had better not be funded through the bed tax! As exciting as the action on the ice may be, the percentage of overnight visitors will be so low as to escape measurement.

And, if you are ever handed an economic impact study prepared by ownership of the franchise, head for the nearest exit.

So, what’s the point? Recognize professional minor league sports for what they are: a quality of life issue. Make sure necessary funding comes from appropriate sources. Consuming precious room tax revenues is not the answer, and be sure to make these points with your elected representatives.

 

Kind Regards

Don

Remembering Kevin Gray

June 16, 2011

The loss of Kevin Gray to cancer brings to mind so many memories of the early days of the National Association of Sports Commissions. We were founded, first and foremost, to get together and discuss topics of concern to us all…but we never forgot the value of making new friends. The participants in these meetings, including Kevin, began making friends for life.

We are a much bigger association today, and I miss the sense of community that comes from early efforts and discovery of the path to a formal association. You may be interested to know that our market segment meetings began as an attempt by many of our “old timers,” including Kevin, to reconnect and capture some of that original sense of community. It worked well enough that the concept was extended beyond sports commissions and segmented to try to make each meeting productive for all.

Kevin Gray was one of us. We will miss him a great deal. His loss has set us thinking about ways to recapture some of the original spirit that was such a hallmark of our gatherings. Perhaps we need a hall of fame and a hall of fame dinner and fund raiser on the open night at our annual symposium.  In the meantime please check our web site on the ways in which you can remember Kevin to his family. In one of my last conversations with him, he mentioned how great it would be if Kansas City could win an award in Greensboro.

Although that did not happen, we did create a new award that is being presented to Kevin’s family. The award was approved by our board of directors as the NASC Award for Outstanding Achievement. Kevin’s memento reads “Always Seeking the Best.” It is quite easy to imagine this as the Kevin Gray Award for Outstanding Achievement, an award that would be presented only when appropriate.

I welcome your suggestions for new ways to connect. For my part, I am going to do all I can to urge each one of you to realize how important it is to gather at least once a year to hear and learn from some of the best in our industry…but also to spend time connecting with those who can support you throughout the year. This is something that comes only by making the effort to get together.

Thanks, Kevin.

 

Kind Regards

Don

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Economic Impact…a Subject That Will Not And Cannot Go Away

June 7, 2011

Our association has been dealing for more than fifteen years with the many issues surrounding economic impact. At present we are completing a project with the University of Arizona that may produce some new data that will assist your efforts…we will see.

I have been in communication recently with representatives from a city agency in one of our member communities. They want to decide on construction of new sports facilities and requested assistance deciding how to proceed. They host a large number of events each year and have been using inaccurate numbers to compute daily spending for visitors.

It seems urgency is more important than accuracy. I suggested commissioning a university conducted survey of three or more of this summer’s events. It seemed to me that would give them fresh data that would permit good projections if the number of fields and courts increased. That just will not do. No one wants to wait for better data. Instead the issue has switched to coming up with something…anything…to get the job done now!

I cannot be certain, but it looks like they are considering the investment of several million dollars in new facilities. Talk about instantaneous gratification! If it is so important to reach a “go-no go” decision with bad data it seems the decision should be “no go!” What do you want to bet the data will come back pumped up to the point where construction begins ASAP?

Garbage in, garbage out…

 

Kind Regards

Don

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