Georgia's Freshwater Coast

We were honored to make a presentation on the benefits of sports tourism to Leadership Lincoln, Georgia. The session was held at Elijah State Park along the shores of Clark’s Hill Lake. The session, “Play Lincoln County”, was hosted by the Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce, and it offered an immersive education for local stakeholders into the myriad natural assets offered throughout the county, which is advertised as “Georgia’s Freshwater Coast.” Enjoyed the day in your beautiful hometown!

2019 USA Cycling Collegiate Road National Championships

Nothing beats working an event in your backyard, especially when it’s a bike race. I got my start in sports when a friend and I hosted a small bike race at Fort Gordon Augusta in 1992, and it was an honor to keep the tradition going at the 2019 USA Cycling Collegiate Road National Championships in Augusta May 10-12, 2019.

Since the modest beginnings of our small bike race, Augusta has played host to five USA Cycling National Championships, and Collegiate Nats were the latest in the rich history. The event brought college teams from across the United States to compete in the three-day, four disciplines event: Team Time Trial (TTT), Individual Time Trial (ITT), Road Race, and Criterium. The road race and time trials were held on a legendary circuit at Fort Gordon, and the criterium was held in historic Downtown Augusta.

Race Director Shawn Brett of USA Cycling organized a great race, and the Augusta Sports Council’s local support was excellent. The weather even cooperated to some degree, although the heat and humidity took its toll on riders not used to pedaling through a warm bath.

 This being Georgia, it had to rain and, of course, it held off until the final day, which meant the criteriums had more than the typical carnage. The rain did cease for the podium presentations, but as the riders were packing up to leave, and we began to breakdown the venue, the bottom fell out. It was a soggy end for us, but as long as the riders left happy, we knew we’d done our job.

2019 NASC Symposium in Knoxville

I had the opportunity to attend the NASC Symposium in Knoxville May 6-9, 2019. I always look forward to this show as it provides great education, networking, and a chance to catch up with industry peers and friends. It didn’t hurt that it was in the southeast. The drive over through the mountains of North Carolina and Eastern Tennessee was beautiful and relatively quick. I do my share of flying, so it was nice to take a little drive for this road trip.

I hadn’t been to Knoxville since 1984. It’s a great southern town and has a lot to offer. My in-laws are rabid Vols fans so the photos from the opening gathering at Neyland Stadium generated a lot of envy. Over the course of my visit, I did a significant amount of walking through the downtown, as well as the Tennessee campus. There’s a nice vibrancy that comes with being a college town.

NASC will soon become SPORTS ETA. However they are referred, they are the standard-bearer for the sports tourism industry, and the Symposium is a must-attend event. The show offers an excellent selection of breakout sessions covering the best practices of our industry. And the appointments where communities meet directly with event rightsholders provide a direct-connect for CVB’s and sports commissions to recruit events that are best suited for their local assets.

It’s a little different for me now when I attend the show. Though I’m not there representing one specific community, I am still there looking on behalf of our client-communities, trying to further my industry education, and enjoying the interaction with like-minded souls. We are a merry band of sports tourism warriors and this is our annual rite. This is an occasion I look forward to, and the trip to Knoxville did not disappoint.

Ian DuTeau at  Gabrielsen Natatorium on the University of Georgia Campus

One of the privileges of working with a cool college town is having choice spots for a stakeholder meeting. Such was the case when Sports Strategies presented the report of our Community Assessment for Sports Tourism to Visit Athens, Georgia and local stakeholders at the Terrapin Brewery on March 28, 2019.

The presentation at Terrapin was an opportunity to bring together the cross-section of community sports backers to discuss the assessment for which they all played a crucial role. As added incentive, Terrapin provided the attendees a pint glass, as well as a great selection of beers to fill the glass after the meeting.

Working with the Athens CVB was a complete joy. Jay Boling, Sports Sales Manager; Nick Arnold, Sales Director; and Chuck Jones, Executive Director were complete professionals who became great friends through this process. Athens has an abundance of world class sports facilities, as well as an enthusiastic community base who were all willing to give of their time as we pulled together the assessment. Holding the final meeting of the first phase of this project at Terrapin was a stroke of genius, and it was also a great way to celebrate a job well done by the team. 

In keeping with the sports tourism theme, I extended my visit in Athens through the weekend to watch my son compete in the USA Swimming Northeastern Swim Divisionals at Gabrielsen Natatorium on the University of Georgia campus. We really do live what we practice, and it was satisfying to be among the thousands of swimmers and their families who added hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Athens economy during the swim weekend.

As a swim parent, it was a thrill to see the excitement of my son competing in such an esteemed venue. Athens has excellent sports facilities, and Gabrielsen Natatorium at Ramsey Student Center is one of the best. It was tremendous that this facility, which has seen performances by many Olympic greats was, for this weekend, a competition venue for a bunch of kids who felt that sense of history and swam as if they were chasing it. It was pretty cool for mom and dad, too.