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Economic development official
explores sports commission

Jefferson County could benefit
from events, Terrell says

 

 

(January 2005)

Read previous Don Ward columns!
Don Ward

As David Terrell watched more than 200 runners race by during last year’s NCAA Div. III National Cross Country Championship at Hanover College, a light bulb went off in his head. What would be the chances of creating a sports commission to bring in more athletic events to Jefferson County as part of an overall economic development effort?

David Terrell

David Terrell

After all, as executive director of Madison-Jefferson County Economic Development Corp, it is Terrell’s job to study ways of attracting new businesses and creating local jobs.
Since that revelation, Terrell has been informally discussing the idea with other community leaders. Although the idea is intriguing, it is still in the developmental stage, Terrell insists.
“There are a lot of regional and state-level sports associations that have regional and state competitions that we would be capable of hosting. And when you think of the number of people it involves with the athletes, coaches parents and fans, that’s a lot of hotel rooms and meals at local restaurants,” Terrell said. “I think it’s definitely something that we should look into.”
Terrell sees it as “a good economic driver. And if we do it right, we could target these events on off peak weekends when there isn’t much else going on in town.”
Terrell said little leagues and amateur athletic organizations would likely be the ideal types of events to go after. Each organization would operate their events once here. The sports commission would bid for the events and then manage the logistics of making it happen.
Terrell cited the Madison Gymnastics World competitions that take place at the Madison Consolidated High School and at the privately operated gym. “They draw huge crowds of people who come in and spend the entire weekend here. I think there are other sports out there that we could attract to help maximize our local hotels.”
Terrell said the effort would entail organizing an entity to bid for sports competitions on a regional scale that would be small enough to stage at existing facilities in the area. These might include Hanover College, Madison Consolidated and Southwestern high schools or the city parks department facilities. It would not involved building a new facility.
Terrell said once here, visitors would have the opportunity of seeing what else the community has to offer and may return another time to visit area attractions.
John Staicer, executive director of Historic Madison Inc., said he supports any effort to promote Madison’s historic attractions to potential new visitors. He said the idea of a sports commission is worth studying if it helps fill hotel rooms and draw attention to Madison.

Staicer presented the idea to the Madison Area Convention and Visitors Bureau’s board during a recent meeting but added that it is still only in the “discussion stages.”
Andy Jugan heads the 4 1/2-year-old Greater Louisville Sports Commission and advises that any small community such as Madison should “first take a good hard look at your facilities before you go much farther” in creating a sports commission.
For instance, he says it would require at least 10 to 12 fields to hold even a large softball tournament, and eight to 10 courts for a basketball event.
Hanover College would be the closest thing to a large facility in the county, but Jugan said, “I’m not sure if Hanover College couldn’t market itself to bring in enough outside events to fill whatever facilities they’ve got on their own.”
In addition to facilities, the group would have to find a solid funding source to get an event off the ground, Jugan said. “That funding would have to either come from the economic development organization or the hotel-motel group, I would suspect because if you don’t have a track record, it’s really hard to get big corporate companies on board when you’re dealing with an unproven entity.”
Louisville started its sports commission in March 2000 and now hosts nearly 40 major events year-round. In addition to soliciting and bidding for contracts, the Louisville Sports Commission manages the events. Officials there estimate that the commission has generated $85.6 million in economic impact of events booked or held since 2000.
Among the recent events was last spring’s National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics outdoor championships and marathon, held at Cardinal Park and Shawnee Park and attracting more than 1,500 athletes and 2,000 parents and fans. Other Louisville facilities for possible use by the sports commission include Freedom Hall, Broadbent Arena, Cardinal Stadium, Papa John’s Stadium and various parks, colleges and schools.
The commission has brought in a variety of sporting events that include the state’s high school football championship, an LPGA golf tournament, a triathlon and collegiate competitions in volleyball, cross country, tennis, softball, track and field, archery and cheerleading and gymnastics.
In 2007, Louisville will play host to the Summer National Senior Games and Olympics, one of the largest recurring multi-sports events in the country and the largest event booked to date by the commission. This will feature more than 12,500 athletes ages 50 and over. The city also is being considered by NBC-TV as a possible site for its new Action Sports Tour, a five-city tour beginning next spring. This will feature skateboarding, BMX bike competition and freestyle motocross.
Terrell says that comparing the smaller Madison market to Louisville is unfair because Madison would be seeking much smaller events to match available facilities. Louisville’s population is 700,000, compared to Jefferson County, Ind., whose population is only 32,250. The challenges, however, would be similar, just on a smaller scale, officials say.
“To me, it’s part of a coordinating function to really market to a segment that is currently not being marketed to,” Terrell said.

• Don Ward is the editor, publisher and owner of RoundAbout. Call him at (812) 273-2259 or email him at: Don@RoundAboutMadison.com.

 

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