Archive for January, 2013

NASC Sports Legacy Fund

January 31, 2013

The 2013 NASC Sports Symposium is around the corner and I hope everybody is getting ready for this event and all the events of your own upcoming this spring. I would like to have everyone just take a quick minute and try to get involved in a worthy cause and take the opportunity to showcase your area and events! After 2012 Hartford, I was looking to get more involved in NASC and contacted the national office and showed my interest in the Sport Legacy Committee and am very excited in our committee’s goals for this year’s symposium.

“Run. Louisville, Run” is the 2013 Beneficiary for the Sports Legacy fund. This program challenges youth ages 12-18, to train and complete the Triple crown of racing , a 10- mile race held in the Spring. This is a great opportunity for every member to get involved in this cause but more important to “show-off” something special or unique about your city, event or region.

Our committee is looking for you to donate an item or items from your city or event that best represents your area and can show all the other members what you’re doing for today’s sporting events around the country. If unable to donate, please pass the world around to all your colleagues about bidding on items at this year’s symposium or purchasing raffle tickets to win other great prizes.

I really think NASC and all its doing for our membership and the entire sports world is moving in the right direction and I hope you will consider donating to NASC Sports Legacy Fund. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to reach out to the membership and I look forward to seeing you in Louisville.

JIM STEELE, South Sioux City NE CVB

Making the Most of The NASC Symposium Experience

January 30, 2013

“The buck stops with you” at the NASC Symposium. You get out of it what you prepare and put in to it.

That is easy, we all know that in whatever and wherever our jobs and tasks take us.

After 13 years attending NASC Symposiums, there are tips that allow for you to be highly successful and take back with you. These are not necessarily original, we all know them. A little reinforcement always is good.


Ideas can come from the most unlikely places – listen to people, draw out and learn from them.


There are many simple ways to accomplish what you need to accomplish. Maintain a focus of what you want to accomplish at Symposium, be innovative, but don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Consider, if yiou have not done so, enrolling in the NASC CSEE Program.


Take pride in what you do and within your organization. You and your staff are your biggest brand advocates. Taking pride shows when you are selling your event, destination or product/service; it can make for an easier sale.


Have fun at Symposium in the Marketplace, in the Break Out Sessions, at Extra Innings. Networking means having fun. Don’t forget you have to be up and early the next day and do it over again.


If you happen not be having fun, or being productive, or are in a funk, start over again. Learn from what went wrong, don’t get disheartened, seek out your peers and start all over.

Believe Your Symposium Experience will be a good one.


Jim Hilb, CSEE

Associated Premium Corporation

Cincinnati, Ohio

Over 15 years in the Sports Events Industry with the NASC including terms on the Board of Directors and various NASC Committees. Entrepreneurial skills in promotional branding and recognition including strategic planning and budget management. International experience in consumer goods products focusing on operational excellence,  developing and implementing growth strategies. Extensive knowledge in the areas of Sales, Marketing, Brand Management, Licensing and Intellectual Property, Due Diligence, Global Marketing, Strategic Alliances and E-Business. Proven ability to lead strong and loyal teams, to plan short term and long term and understanding communications with organizations at all levels including senior management. I received a BA in Economics and History for the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an MBA from the University of Cincinnati.

Fostering a Sports-Friendly Community

January 25, 2013

As a sports event insider, we know the intrinsic value of sports events: revenue-generating, community bonding, healthy benefits for the participants, wholesome entertainment for the fans…but assuming a host neighborhood shares our perception is a dead-end approach. To dissipate a NIMB (Not in My Backyard) reaction, a pro-active and collaborative approach with the community is essential.

Education and outreach starts with you. If you don’t spread the word about what you’re doing, most people will assume you’re doing nothing. Or worse, trying to slip something over on them. And when the time comes for critical funding, infrastructure development, event volunteers, etc., you will not have built a local support base.

Start talking. Offer to speak at a Chamber of Commerce, Rotary or other professional meeting – they’re always looking for speakers. Seek out local sports organizations and attend their meetings. Make presentations at local high school and college classes. Write editorials and op-eds for the local paper. Develop an informative website and maintain your social media. The goal is to be accessible and transparent.

Communicate the economic impact of upcoming sports events. Highlight your marketing efforts. Illustrate your “green” considerations. And remember it’s not just about the splashy, high-profile events. Emphasize the value of smaller, youth-oriented tournaments. It’s important your community understands the bread-and-butter, year-round value of youth soccer and volleyball tournaments, Babe Ruth, swim meets, Ultimate Frisbee, etc.

Awareness-raising can reap tremendous results in sponsorship and volunteer recruitment. But don’t stop there. Find out what concerns neighbors have. Congestion and traffic? Noise and bright lights? Litter or crime? Access to local business and loss of revenue? Make sure to involve the community in the solutions. Naysayers may be your most important audience and may become your best volunteers.

Ask elected officials for letters of support on sports bids – these requests enhance the bid and open communication between you and local leadership. Invite key stakeholders – city and county staff, parks department, school athletic directors to opt-in to your eNewsletter. This group is critical support for successful sports events. Our Eugene, Cascades & Coast Sports Commission eNewsletter doesn’t have a huge number of subscribers, but they are power subscribers – key stakeholders who can allocate resources and help us grow.

Eugene has hosted the US Olympic Team Trials – Track & Field five times (most recently in 2008 and 2012). From KidsSports championships to mountain biking tours in Oakridge to sandboarding tournaments on the Oregon Coast, the region’s sports commission is committed to increasing the breadth and depth of sports events and opportunities within their community.

Janis Two

Janis Ross, Executive Director
Eugene, Cascades & Coast Sports

Plan early for NASC Sports Event Symposium!

January 21, 2013

Well folks, it’s that time of year again – the time that we all start rolling out the New Year’s resolutions.  Some of us will vow to eat less, exercise more, be more appreciative of what we have, spend more quality time with loved ones, etc.  Here’s one for you:  Plan early for NASC Sports Event Symposium!

  • The deadline to register (let’s start there) is Friday, March 8.
  • Watch for the best airfare.
  • Book your hotel reservations while there is still room left in the block – you will save money by getting the group rate and a lot of business takes place in the corridors or public areas of the headquarter hotel(s).
  • Strategically think about the people that you’d like to extend an invitation to meet with during open time in your schedule.  The earlier you reach out to individuals to ask if they are attending and if they’d please take an appointment request from you, the better your chances of actually making it happen!
  • To get the most out of the conference, start your research early.  Research takes effort and time.  Know who you are requesting an appointment with and whether it’s truly a good match for both parties.  Many people skip this step and wonder why they don’t get more out of the appointments.
  • Make a wish list of the people that you’d like to have an appointment with and the moment the opportunity arises to request times, you’ll be ahead of the game with a priority list already made.
  • Try to remind yourself that quality is better than quantity.  Having a packed agenda of meetings or introductions that go nowhere doesn’t benefit anyone.
  • Have fun.  The sports industry is great because it’s not only a really enjoyable market, but anyone can be a winner – big events or small competitions, large cities or tiny towns… find the right partner and soar.

Happy New Year!  I’ll see all of you resolution makers and breakers at the Symposium.

Janis Schmees Head Shot Color 2012Janis Schmees, CSEE, has been the CEO of the Harris County – Houston Sports Authority since 2006 when she became the third chief executive and first woman to hold the position since the inception of the organization.  In addition to overseeing the billion dollars of bond debt service for Houston’s premiere, professional sports stadiums, under her leadership, Houston has been awarded major sporting events.  Schmees has been recognized by Conference USA and Rice University for her outstanding contributions and achievements as a woman in the Houston sports industry, honored as a “Woman on the Move” by the Texas Executive Women’s Association, and recently named “Houston’s 50 Most Influential Women of 2012.”

NASC Introduces New On-Line Magazine “NASC Playbook” Explores the Business of Sports Event Travel Industry

January 16, 2013

On January 15, 2013, the National Association of Sports Commissions debuted its first edition of the NASC Playbook, an on-line magazine designed to keep sports commissions and others involved in the business of sports events informed with industry trends, professional development opportunities and best practices.

Here is a link to the NASC Playbook:

“We are always looking to investigate ‘best practices’ that our members use,” said Don Schumacher, executive director of the NASC. “We plan to share this information each quarter with our NASC Playbook in an on-line format to increase circulation while decreasing costs.”

The first edition of the NASC Playbook includes the following features:

• The Louisville Sports Commission and the NCAA used their long-term relationship to fulfill the needs of championship student-athletes
• The city of Round Rock, Texas and its voters supported efforts of the Convention & Visitors Bureau to expand the “Sports Capital of Texas” brand to approve a new indoor sports facility to continue its sports tourism business year-round
• The Cincinnati Reds create a year-round presence with fan-friendly events and opportunities to connect with the players and the team.

Also included is information on the upcoming 2013 NASC Sports Event Symposium, to be held April 22-25 in Louisville.

Beyond the “Sale”

January 16, 2013

The National Association of Sports Commission (NASC) is a primary catalyst for growing successful sports commissions and providing them the tools to enhance their impact in the community.

One of the greatest opportunities at the NASC isn’t to sell your destination; it is to become more effective as a sports commission.  Through education, CSEE and market segment meetings, the NASC is critical resource for learning more about best practices in the industry and important trends.  For many, attending the Market Segment meetings have become an essential tool for running a sports commission.

This resource doesn’t come from the NASC home office in Cincinnati; it is from peers in the membership.  This year in Kansas City, 25 large market sports commission and 35 attendees spent two days sharing information, swapping stories of success and failure.  They weren’t there as rivals, they were there to talk about best practices and learn from each other.   On a different day, some might be competitors for an event they’d like to host.  At these meeting, they were attendees committed to the philosophy that a stronger sports commission industry ultimately benefits us all.

The attendees at the meeting tackled topics such as marketing to distracted customers in the new world of social media and numerous media outlets vying for the multi-tasking consumer.  This included everything from our websites and Facebook pages, Twitter, Instagram, Google, traditional media, email, snail mail and grass roots marketing.  Winning the bid is great, hosting a functional and financially successful event is far more important.

The discussion on marketing was followed by one on the 3 M’s of sports commissions:  Money, Money and Money.  From fundraising events to sponsorship to memberships to government support, it is the life blood of a sports commission.   Organizations from around the country shared information on fundraising events that worked, what sponsors are looking for to activate their brands and other sustainable funding ideas that have helped organizations grow.  With the demise of many public funding sources, sports commissions are tasked to be entrepreneurs that look beyond government funding and old sources of revenue to open the door to the new financial future of our industry.

The second day of the meetings began with the strong roots into each commission’s community, looking at an effective board of directors, further engaging them in a sports commission, partnerships with other nonprofits and the relationship with the tourism industry.    Board members can be the key to the door for funders, the source of credibility in the community and ambassadors for the events and projects.

The conversations closed with a targeted look at the events this industry hosts.  Those it bids on, creates, owns and operates.  What the trends are around the country for the next two to five years.  Setting criteria for bidding or creating specific events was discussed, including the reasons for a sports commission to own an event and the secrets to their success.

Before engaging an event owner, a sports commission needs the capacity to successfully host their events.  The venue and arrangements are important, but filling seats, raising funds, selling tickets and marketing it to the community are important to a single event’s success, along with the future reputation of your community. What better place to plan for these event that with your peers who may have already hosted them.

There are also many reasons that were discussed for being involved in specific events, from their economic impact to health and fitness to supporting women’s athletics to access to sports for kids to sportsmanship.  Sports commissions host and create events for specific reasons that motivate their community.  Events like NCAA Final Four, an awards show, Olympic Trials and State Games exist for different purposes, but each have a place in a sports commission.  In Kansas City, the discussions were able to clarify many reasons locals will rally behind events and organizations to make them successful.

As would be expected, Kansas City did an amazing job of hosting peers from the sports industry augmented by plenty of great BBQ.  The large market meetings has always been a great resource, but truly the highlight of the trip was a visit to the Kansas City Sports Commission’s offices to honor a former colleague who recently lost his fight with cancer.  Kevin Gray wasn’t only the head of the Kansas City Sports Commission; he was a leader and innovator in the industry.  He took risks, created new opportunities and many were the beneficiary of his knowledge and friendship.  Kevin is the perfect example of the true spirit of membership in the NASC.  He learned from and gave back far more to the association that he was passionate for and led to the expansion of sports commission across the country.

Make the most of the NASC membership.  It isn’t always what a member gets, but what they give that ends up being rewarding.  From small markets to large, from sports commission to CVBs, make the most of the NASC by getting involved and investing your time in the future of the industry.  It will pay dividends for your sports commission.

Ralph Morton

Ralph Morton, NASC board member, has been in the sports industry since 1988.  He is the Executive Director of the Seattle Sports Commission, whose mission is to make Seattle a world-class sports community.  As Vice President of Events for the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation, he held a leadership role on events such as Super Bowls and NCAA Final Fours.  He served as Vice President of Operations for the Acxiom Grand Prix Du Mardi Gras and Entertainment Coordinator for Aggreko Entertainment Services.  He is a University of Florida graduate, and lives with his wife and four children on Mercer Island.

What my NASC membership means to me

January 15, 2013

When I first joined the National Association of Sports Commissions in 1999, I had a very narrow view of the NASC and what it had to offer.  My focus was solely on the website,, and what business opportunities that I could find there. My motivation to join was to learn about events that were available for bid for the State of Massachusetts.  In addition, the listing of event planners / owners was, and still is, a valuable tool in instances where I wanted to pursue a sport which currently had no open events listed.

Over time, my view changed dramatically. When I started attending the NASC Symposium, I now had the opportunity meet the event planners of whom I read about on the website.  The NASC Symposium Marketplace and receptions allowed me to get to know these planners on a personal level.  Nuances of their sports and what is important to their sport and to them personally came to light.  I was able to learn about new opportunities of which I was unaware.  I was also able to meet planners whose event I could not accommodate now but may be able to in the future. The number of possibilities and information expanded.  I was able to form relationships with event organizers and to gain information that is not in print.

Through the NASC, I am not only able to network with event planners but to also meet my peers in the industry.  Although there is a significant diversity in organizational size / budget / structure from CVB to Sports Commission to hybrid versions, we encounter many of the same challenges.   Learning best practices and new approaches to common issues through my peers at the Market Segment Meetings and the Symposium has helped me to stay in tune with the industry and to not have to “reinvent the wheel” to solve problems.  In addition, when bidding on events that rotate through the country, having a peer contact who has hosted the event in the past can assist in getting hard data and evaluations on events.

My view of the NASC has changed over time.  Originally the NASC meant a source for available events on the web.  It has developed to an organization that fosters networking, relationships, information and best practices.

R Murdock 72DPI

Bob Murdock joined Destination Worcester in November 2007.  As a facilitator for Worcester, Massachusetts, the 2nd largest City in New England, Bob has helped secure a number of significant events.  In 2012, Worcester hosted the Fed Cup match between USA and Belarus, US Synchronized Skating National Championships, NCAA Hockey Division I Men’s Hockey Regional Championship, Little League Senior Girls’ Softball Eastern Regional and the US Rowing Masters National Championships.  USA Gymnastics will return in March of 2013 with the USA Gymnastics AT&T American Cup.

Bob Murdock
Director of Sales
Destination Worcester
446 Main Street, 2nd Floor
Worcester, MA 01608
Member of Mentoring Committee

Attending the NASC Sports Events Symposium…What Takeaways Can You Expect?

January 11, 2013

As of today, the NASC Sports Events Symposium stands only 100 days away; and if you’re like me your desk is littered with many other projects, reports, rfp’s and other responsibilities that keep you from thinking about something 100 days away.  That being said let me enlighten you on why, right now, is a good reason to check off registering and planning to attend this key industry event from your list.

The fact that you’re reading this blog is a good start.  We all get pre-occupied with our daily lives, but having attended this symposium for the past seven years; I can tell you that proper planning and attentiveness will positively impact both your experience and your return on investment when returning to the office.  This industry event is an investment, both in financial terms and in time out of the office…but if you take advantage of all the opportunities the NASC staff and Symposium Committee create at this one-of-a-kind sports event symposium, you will be better off in accomplishing your organizational goals and have fun doing it!

Take the fact that the average attendee meets 47 prospects and generates $400,000 in new business at the NASC Sports Event Symposium.  Based on goal setting and economic impact we all desire from sport tourism, you can’t afford not to attend.  Each hour of each day within the Symposium schedule offers something for everyone.  Beginning with the 1st Time Attendee Reception and orientation, where new attendees have the chance to meet others jumping into the sport industry’s leading networking and education event for the first time…but definitely not the last.  You’ll also meet board members and committee members who have shared even more of their time and experience to an industry and organization that gives back.  The Opening Ceremonies and NASC Annual General Membership meeting give an insight into the inner workings and direction your organization and industry is headed and allows for you to get involved.  Two new events this year, the Rapid RFP Review and Game Changers condense meaningful opportunities to connect with Event Owners and learn about the industry’s hottest topics into fast-paced informative sessions.  Other educational opportunities have been carefully selected to allow individuals from all aspects of operations to bring something back to their positions; whether they are in finance, event management, sales and marketing or at the executive level.

I haven’t even touched on the NASC Sports Marketplace where one-on-one appointments will allow you to touch base and create professional relationships with event owners who may be interested in what your destination has to offer…AND THERE’S THE GREAT NETWORKING EVENTS!  But if that’s not enough to get you to register today for this industry’s most comprehensive event, then an added benefit to this year’s NASC Sports Event Symposium in Louisville, KY is the secret single barrel bourbon tour…just ask Greg Fante with the Louisville Sports Commission for directions.  Now follow this link and get registered .

GuswilerMike is a graduate of Central Michigan University (Fire Up Chips!) and serves as the Executive Director of West Michigan Sports Commission since the non-profit formed in 2007.  Mike has led two strategic plans with his board and as a result has created a signature event for WMSC; began a $10 million capital campaign to build a sports complex; and has become the go-to organization for many sports clubs and organizations locally.
Following are many skill sets Mike has learned in his position that he is willing to share with others:
-Starting/creating a new Sports Commission
– Event development
– Board Management
– Budgeting/Financial management
– Event bidding/proposal creation/bid presentations
– Capital campaigns/fundraising
– Sponsor development

You Get What You Get So Don’t Throw a Fit: Taking Control of Your Symposium Experience

January 8, 2013

Corey Kearsley

Like anything else, what you learn and accomplish at the National Association of Sports Commissions Symposium will be dictated by the effort you put into it.  Do you attend all of the sessions?  Are you engaged?   Regardless of what your objectives are when attending the conference, we are largely in control of what we gain from the opportunities presented to us.

One element we don’t have control over is our Marketplace appointment schedule.  Too many forces out of our control make it impossible for all CVB’s and sports commissions to receive the schedules they want.  While we control who we request, we can’t control with whom we will meet.

Or can we?

When I received my Marketplace schedule for the 2012 Hartford Symposium, I couldn’t believe that I was granted only nine appointments out of the 31 requests I made.  Frustrated and wondering how I could justify the expense of attending, I fired off an “is this all I’m getting?” email to NASC Director of Meetings and Events, Beth Hecquet.

After discussing my concerns with Beth, I realized that my meeting with event owners didn’t have to be limited to just the scheduled appointment times.  As I reviewed the Symposium schedule, I discovered opportunities to arrange quick meetings, including the following:

  • Early in the mornings before the first session
  • While meals are being served and eaten during the general sessions
  • Between sessions
  • At the networking events
  • On the way to the networking events
  • Between the last session or appointments of the day and the evening activities
  • Between appointments
  • On the evening before the conference when people are arriving at the hotel

Once I realized I could find time, I began contacting those with whom I wanted to meet but who didn’t show on my schedule.  There were a few who didn’t respond, but most were willing to meet.   A couple said that they were as anxious to meet with me as I was with them but they simply didn’t have enough appointment slots.  By the time the conference was over I felt like I achieved my goals.  It took a little bit of extra work, but it was worth it.  And perhaps, more importantly, it reminded me that, like anything else, you’ll get out of the conference what you put into it.