SportsEvents Magazine

MAR 2018

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March 2018 22 ONE- on- ONE t should carefully evaluate what they are building and whether it will be competitive to attract sports tourism. Some areas of the country may not need more ball fields but they could use an equestrian park, BMX track, rowing course, climbing or any other number of sports tourism assets. The chal- lenge I have with the travel sports boom is that not everyone gets to play. Some kids either cannot afford to play or they develop late and aren't good enough to make the team at a young age. Because I believe in the importance of playing and the lifelong benefits, we cannot lose out on these kids and families that are left behind. Providing them with places to play and finding ways to promote and support their participation is important to our communities. So, my response to the concern of the building boom is that these facilities matter and we should take great care in determining the right-sizing and type of venues we con- struct. Then when built, the operation needs to be developed just as carefully to serve guests with excellence and with fiduciary accountability. What was the first sports property developed with SFA/ SFM's guidance? How is it doing today? We have a number of sports complexes built decades ago that we have helped optimize and/or turn around. That said, High Velocity Sports was among the first we worked with during our inception. It is a privately-owned venue in metro Detroit with outstanding ownership and leadership. That facility was instrumental in the devel- opment of our organization and they are doing well and have expanded their foot- print over the years. How many properties are built, being built or managed through your company? Where are they? We count over 50 sports complexes across the country with a few internationally in Canada, the Caribbean and the Middle East within our portfolio. Within the United States, we manage in major markets like San Francisco, Chicago, Houston and New York City, as well as relatively small markets in Oklahoma, Ohio, South Carolina and more. Tourism destinations such as Gatlinburg, Myrtle Beach, Cocoa Beach and others have been successful as well. In 2017 alone, we evaluated over 110 potential new developments and we focus our resources on the best opportunities for success. What types of sports or activ- ities are available and how do you determine what's needed in terms of space for each area? We truly look for the best fit for that partic- ular community. Certainly, we evaluate tra- ditional team activities for an indoor/outdoor application, including turf, rectangular and diamond sports, court-based sports, com- petitive and recreational aquatics, ice and more. We also keep our eye on emerging trends in non-traditional sports like pickleball as an example of a fast-growing sport in the country a lot of people aren't thinking about. We are actively tracking some inno- vative developments focused on developing year-round opportunities and controlled environments for Olympic sports such as downhill skiing, surfing and sport climbing. We run all kinds of activities like archery, rock-climbing gyms, hosted boxing events, drone racing, e-games and many activities that contribute to the mission of improving the health and economic vitality of the com- munities we serve. I'm from Hoover, Alabama, and my kids attended Hoover City Schools. Hoover already had great facilities but the new Finley Center at the Hoover Met Complex is stunning. People in the community are excited. How do you see the role between man- agement, parks and recreation, and how does that benefit a community like Hoover or Rocky Top or the Rocky Mount location? Hoover is a really special and unique place. The Finley Center opened eight months ago and it has been rewarding to expose the sports travel and event industry to all Hoover has to offer. The Finley Center was designed and built for ultimate flexibility and the proximity to the existing Hoover Met Baseball Stadium where the SEC Baseball Tournament is held provides particular advantage. This spring, the final phase of synthetic turf outdoor baseball/softball fields, multipurpose fields and tennis courts will be completed to provide one of the best sport destinations in the country. One of the things in common of all the locations you mentioned: Hoover, Alabama; Gatlinburg, Tennessee; Rocky Mount, North Carolina; and I would add Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is they all have great leadership within their cities. Our job as the manage- ment company is to understand their goals and facilitate to their objectives as a city. In the case of Hoover, that means striking a balance between community use, providing economic impact through booking of events and providing availability to the school Recreation do a tremendous job and the truth is that we are all working hard to strike that proper balance so we can serve the city to the best of our ability. ► Q Q Q Q The Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in South Bend, Ind.

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