Buddy Up

As youth, collegiate, and adult teams huddle in preparation for the next event, the team behind these successful endeavors never stops working.

Youth sports partnerships bring prosperity to Alabama communities. Photo courtesy of Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Sports Commission

Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Sports Commission (GSOBSC), which promotes a multitude of traditional and unique athletic venues along the Alabama Gulf Coast, is a case study of partnerships at work.


“The development of our sports commission began as a willing partnership between the key stakeholders in the community,” says Beth Gendler, vice-president of sales for GSOBSC.

“From the initial meeting, we knew that without a cohesive effort, we would not have a successful endeavor. Everyone sitting around the table understood his or her organization’s role in addition to how others also played key roles.”

Thus in 2006, the sports commission was formed thanks to a cooperative effort among Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism (CVB), the Alabama Gulf Coast Area Chamber of Commerce, and the cities of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach.

“When the sports commission was first established, the vision was to create a free-standing organization that would work with all of the various island businesses and city recreation departments to recruit and service sporting events to fill our state-of-the-art athletic facilities and now more than 16,000 lodging units,” Gendler explains.

“However, the GSOBSC board realized we would spend a sizable amount of money on the basic items required to establish a company, such as office space, insurance, equipment, and supplies. Thankfully, we had the vision to significantly cut costs in the beginning by utilizing resources already established.”

The commission then became a department within the CVB, where Gendler also serves as vice-president of sales.

“This move allowed us to utilize the expertise of the CVB’s marketing and public-relations staff,” Gendler says.

“Instead of having to hire people to fill these positions or subcontract it to an agency, we had a prime opportunity to rely on this already existing team.

“Their end goal is the same as ours: bring visitors to the area. They simply target leisure consumers while we focus on sporting events.”

Gendler adds that “by relying on partnerships during the formative period of our sports commission, we were able to make huge steps forward.”


GSOBSC is a key link between the potential athletic event and the parks and recreation departments of the local cities.

College softball is a big hit here. Photo courtesy of Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Sports Commission

“We must ensure that a particular facility has availability before we approach various events,” Gendler says.

“Once we secure an event, we facilitate communication between the event director and the venues. We have varying roles throughout the course of a tournament; however, it is due to this team effort that we produce quality events, which have tournament directors returning year after year.”

Ken Grimes, city administrator for the city of Orange Beach, has seen the growth of this important niche market through the years.

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