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Facility Management Focus

The Illinois Sports Strategy

by Edward Marietta and Tricia Sheahan

Sports is a $75 billion per year industry and it's on the upswing. Hosting amateur and professional events is one of the nation's fastest growing businesses. In fact, research shows that holding just five national amateur events per year can mean over $30 million to a local economy.

To many, Indianapolis' sporting success has been the true testament of how events can create an impact. In the 1970s, Indianapolis embarked on a strategic plan to develop its economy and improve its image through investment in amateur sports. Between 1977 and 1991, eighteen national governing bodies of sport moved to the city. These organizations brought in more than $213 million to the state. In 1991 alone, they brought in $29 million and provided 526 jobs. Between 1982 and 1991, nine facilities in Indianapolis were utilized for amateur sporting events. The facilities alone brought in more than $51 million for the state and created more than 2,700 fulltime jobs. And, the events held in the city during that time generated more than 4.75 million spectators, whose spending totaled $787 million. Indianapolis' $124 million investment in sports (including facilities, bidding fees, etc.) has yielded a return of $683 million in personal income to the residents of Indianapolis.

Using Indianapolis as an example, many other states are beginning to tap into the benefits of sporting events, and the national statistics are impressive. St. Louis and Southern Illinois grossed more than $27 million in profit from hosting the 1994 U.S. Olympic Festival. The Florida Special Olympics attracted 2,400 athletes for two days, totaling 4,000 hotel rooms and an economic impact of more than a million dollars for three consecutive years. In 1995, the Puget Sound area will host up to fourteen state champion title events in high school sports and, judging from 1994 attendance figures, the economic impact will exceed $2 million. The Kansas City Sports Commission stated that sporting events accounted for 17 percent of the room nights in 1994—second only to state associations.

The State of Illinois has recognized this unique tourism niche and is committed to further educating cities on how to bid for, secure and host these events. Furthermore, the state has recognized the impact that sporting events have on the quality of life and the ability they have to shape a positive image for the cities where they exist.

Illinois has reason to be enthusiastic about its sports program. The state already has the facilities and dedication to host many of the 1000-plus events open for bid each year. Cities around the state are utilizing both park districts and recreation agency facilities, as well as private venues, to stage their events. "Illinois is lucky enough to have incredibly supportive park districts and recreation agencies and convention and visitors bureaus throughout the state which have continually gone

Illinois Parks & Recreation * September/October 1995 * 21

Indianapolis' $124 million investment in sports (including facilities, bidding fees, etc.) has yielded a return of $683 million in personal income to the residents of Indianapolis.

above and beyond to help stage events in their communities," says Ed Manetta, senior vice president of Edelman Sports, the agency hired to help direct the state's sports marketing program. "In order for Illinois to be successful in luring events, it is imperative that all areas of the community work together."

On the local level, many park districts and recreation agencies are already working hand-in-hand with their local convention and visitors bureaus and sporting clubs to lure events to their communities. In many cases, they are operating together from the ground up, actually putting together the bids, finding volunteers and figuring out ways that the parks and recreation facilities can generate some revenue from the event. Some of the most obvious moneymakers are through ticket sales, concessions, sponsorships and merchandising. As a matter of fact, some of the larger national events are worthy of big-name corporate sponsors which are helping to offset many costs associated with hosting large events.

Edelman Sports was hired by the Illinois Bureau of Tourism to help educate cities throughout the state on the sports market and how to tap into it. Edelman is acting as a centralized resource for the entire state and is continually facilitating information on the program through the convention and visitors bureaus. Last year, the group distributed a comprehensive sports marketing "how to" kit to all convention and visitors bureaus in Illinois. This kit included statistical information on the impact events have on cities, media lists for promotion of events, contact names for national sports governing bodies, information on how to bid for, host and promote events and instructions on how to form a localized sports commission. Many areas of the state have already begun to form their own local sports organizations because these cohesive groups have proven to be so instrumental in securing events.

Edelman has also visited areas of the state to conduct presentations on how to form local sports commissions. Citywide meetings have consisted of individuals from convention and visitors bureaus, park districts and recreation agencies, local sports clubs, high schools and colleges (i.e., coaches and administrators), hotel/motel associations, city councils, local media and chambers of commerce. "Judging from the cities we've visited thus far (Rockford, the Quad Cities, Peoria, Bloomington-Normal. Champaign-Urbana, Quincy, Alton and Galena), the response to the sports program is outstanding," said Manetta. "We are seeing more and more communities really focusing on sports as a means to bring people to their area and to actually create tourism destinations."

Edelman is also working with the state to host a sports marketing seminar slated to take place sometime during the spring of 1996. The conference will feature hot shots from the sports marketing industry and will include a variety of special sessions ranging from event bidding and creation, to the proposed Wisconsin sports lottery, sports commission successes, and event sponsorship.

Edward Manetta is the senior vice president and Tricia Sheahan is the senior account executive/or Edelman Sports/Event Marketing, a division of Edelman Public Relations Worldwide. For further information on the State's sports marketing strategy, contact Tricia Sheahan or R.J. Nolan at 312-240-3000.

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