A reported 83% of American businesses are aggressively pursuing international expansion to drive sales and win new customers in the midst of a recovering economy, according to a 2013 survey of senior executives at companies with annual revenues of $50 million to $1 billion (1)—but that development is also happening within the U.S., as evidenced by the Sports Facilities Advisory (http://www.sportadvisory.com/) (SFA) and its recent expansion to form sister firm Sports Facilities Management (SFM). According to SFA officials, the need to develop two companies under one roof was a natural progression and response to the growing markets of youth sports and sports tourism, which account for a reported $7 billion annually in travel revenue alone. (2)
Youth team sports and sports-related tourism have both proven to be industries which thrive even during a rocky economy. At the height of the Great Recession in 2009, sharp declines in sales in all sports sectors occurred except in team sports—and team sports dealers (retailers who specialize in serving organized sports groups, such as high schools and leagues) performed better in the recession than did mainstream sporting goods stores. (3) And that demand has continued to grow as youth sport travel has become one of the “fastest growing segments of the travel industry, outpacing leisure travel overall.” (4)
However, that uncontested growth has necessitated better quality facility management, according to SFA Executive Vice President and Principal, Eric Sullivan, who adds that SFA’s proprietary data system—based on years of planning, funding and managing facilities, coupled with the rise of the youth sports segment—is the engine behind the development of SFM.
Indoor and outdoor sport complexes have the potential to become a hub for sports tourism and a boon for local economies—research shows that parents spend an average of almost $300 per weekend when they travel with their children’s youth sports teams. (5) However, SFM co-founder and COO Jason Clement says that when poorly executed and managed, these facilities can also become problematic for owners and communities.
“Building a facility and expecting people to just flock to it is a recipe for disaster,” said Clement. “Every complex needs to be properly evaluated, planned and managed; without all three aspects, the project stands a great chance of failing to attract investors or failing year after year due to poor design, location or management.”
Since its recent inception, SFM has already become an industry leader in the managing of amateur sports and events complexes, and along with SFA, provides the planning, financing and management expertise needed to turn ideas into successful recreation facilities.
"SFA has provided sports venue management services for more than eight years, but the time was right for us to separate SFM and to build a world class management team," added Clement.
The company has also attracted several professionals who have held high positions with well-established, successful corporations or have been managers of professional football stadiums:
Steve Daugherty joined SFA after 13 years with Disney/ESPN Wide World of Sports and is now the general manager for SFM-managed Rocky Top Sports World, an 80-acre indoor and outdoor sports campus located in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
Steve Eaton joined SFM after a 23-year career with Disney during which he served as the Events and Operations Director for Disney Theme Parks in Orlando, Florida. Steve is now SFM’s Operations Director for Rocky Top Sports World, which has already booked events for 2014-2015 that will bring more than 40,000 visitors to Gatlinburg in year one, with an estimated economic impact of $30 million within the first five years of its opening.
Joan LeMahieu joined SFM with over 20 years of leadership experience in venue management, event development, hospitality, and the sports and entertainment industries. Most notably, Joan managed Ford Field Stadium, home of the NFL’s Detroit Lions.
Jack Adams joined SFA with experience in directing bars/beverage programs at the national level with the House of Blues, Live Nation, and Gaylord Entertainment. Jack is the key analyst for entertainment and live event programming for clients in areas from multiple revenue center operations to forecasting and P&L management.
In a recent CNBC article, Don Schumacher, Executive Director of the National Association of Sports Commissions, said that “the young who are participating [in team sports] are participating with a vengeance—they are playing a lot of games and entering a lot of tournaments” (4)—a statement with which SFA CEO Dev Pathik agrees, adding, “At last estimate, our numbers show that 52 million athletes will be returning to courts or playing fields in fall or winter leagues. With numbers that high, the youth sports industry will continue to be developed in virtually every suburban and urban community, and as a result, will likely expand on an international scale and begin to impact the economy globally, as well.”
For more information about SFA, SFM and the available suite of planning-funding-opening-management services, visit www.sportadvisory.com.
About Sports Facilities Advisory: The Sports Facilities Advisory (SFA) is the leading resource in sports facility planning and management. The Sports Facilities Advisory has helped to plan, fund, open and manage dozens of multimillion-dollar sports complexes in communities throughout the USA and internationally since its founding in 2003. The company serves public and private clients. Its services fall into four main categories: plan, fund, open and manage, which encompass every phase from early stage feasibility studies to preparing financing documents, overseeing development and opening and full-time management services. SFA’s success depends upon its mission to dramatically improve communities through the opening or optimization of sports and recreation centers. For more information, visit www.sportadvisory.com.
1. “U.S. Companies Using International Expansion to Drive Growth and Profitability.” marketwatch.com/story/us-companies-using-international-expansion-to-drive-growth-and-profitability-2013-08-13.
2. “Spending Big on Kids’ Sports? You’re Not Alone.” cnbc.com/id/101326773#..
3. The Sports Facilities Advisory. “Youth and Amateur Sports: Spending Trends.” November 2013, pdf.
4. “Summer Vacation Hot Spot: On the Sidelines.” 4 Aug. 2014. cnbc.com/id/101848634#..
5. “Amateur Sports, Facilities Sought to Spur Local Economies.” thecitywire.com/node/31183#.Utlr3bROnIU.