An Interview with David Stephens, Co-Founder and CEO of PrimeTime Sports | Sports Destination Management

An Interview with David Stephens, Co-Founder and CEO of PrimeTime Sports


What is the mission of your organization?
The mission for PrimeTime Sports is to be the leading provider of youth sports events by being The Best Game in Town. There are six values that drive what we do:

  • Customer-service driven

  • Have ability and integrity

  • Active listeners

  • Make a difference

  • Problem solvers

  • Serve each other.


Nationally, how many participants do you have?
For basketball, it is more than 65,000. Football and soccer are over 2,000 each.

How many events are held each year?
More than 100.

In what regions/locations are these event held?
Our home market is in Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana, but we have offered events in more than 15 states. Our 2009 plans are for PrimeTime Sports to be in more than 20 states, 30 in 2010.

As an organization, what do you look for in a location?
There are several things we look for but the top three are: (1) A good fit for our strategic growth plan; (2) Locations seeking annually-sustainable events, and (3) Local strategic partners to assist us with lodging, marketing and identifying local participation.

What do you like most about planning sports events?
Every day and each event are unique. Proven systems and procedures, as well as outstanding preparation, are important components to hosting a successful event. Systems and preparation alone, however, will not assure a successful event, as the one thing you can be certain of is that something unanticipated will occur and you will be required to make adjustments on the move. How you respond to and address the unexpected turns of event management go a long way in determining whether an event is successful or not. The challenge of problem solving while chaos rages around you is exciting and demanding, while the successful remedy of the challenge is rewarding and exhilarating.

What is your biggest challenge in organizing sports events?
Well-managed events are seamless and appear to the consumer to almost run themselves. What the consumer doesn't see is the wizard behind the curtain and the many moving parts required to pull off a successful event. This "things look pretty simple" view by the consumer, along with our commitment to provide great value, results in thin operating margins. This creates a special challenge in the allocation of organizational resources, people, time and more, while still providing great events, driven by a commitment to customer service.

In your career, what single sports event stands out as most memorable, and why?
There would actually be two, the first PrimeTime Sports Basketball National Championship in 2001 and the recently concluded 2008 Basketball National Championship. In 2001 we hosted 42 teams in the first ever National Championship hosted by PrimeTime Sports. I must say it took everything we had as an organization, plus the support of family and friends to pull it off. This past July, seven years later, the PrimeTime Sports Basketball National Championship welcomed 612 youth basketball teams from across the country to Dallas, Texas. The event required 1,574games played on 49 courts at 22 venues over four days. It took the effort, commitment, and passion of our full-time team, hundreds of seasonal and part-time workers and volunteers, and supportive communities and CVBs, not to mention the 7,000 players and more than 15,000 family and friends that attended the event. In many ways, the first one is the most memorable, in part, because without it, we could not have later hosted the largest, single venue, youth basketball championship in the country!