Buddy Up

“After completing four years of partnership with the commission, for the Gulf Coast Invitational Tournament, I can say it has not only been a beneficial relationship for our program, but also for our institution,” McCormick says.

“The benefits that we have received are beyond what I would have expected. Through financial support and in-kind support from their membership, our tournament has become the largest NAIA event, outside of the national tournament. It has certainly been a benefit to us, and it keeps my team and up to 35 others coming back to the Gulf Coast.”

As the relationship with the University of Mobile shows, working together extensively on an event enhances the expected benefits for everyone.

Along the same lines, Sean Weaver of the Pleasure Island Volleyball Club has worked with the GSOBSC on several events, commenting that “most of all, having the endorsement of the sports commission brings a seal of approval to others that are looking for a well-organized and established sporting event. Their assistance is always greatly appreciated and needed when it comes to both of my events.”

Future

“Thanks to the benefit of our diverse partnership base, we have made significant progress in the recent years,” Gendler says.

Steady growth of the sports commission is evident in the numbers. In 2008, the commission hosted 28 events resulting in 10,081 room nights and a $3-million tourism impact (total spending).

The growth continued as 2009 saw 51 events generating 23,155 room nights and a $7.6-million tourism impact. Most surprising of all was the continued upward climb in the face of an unprecedented event in the summer of 2010.

“The Gulf oil spill was certainly a challenge we did not expect to face; however, we relied on our strong partnerships in the community as we all worked to honestly answer the questions of our guests, including the tournament directors and concerned parents of sporting-event participants,” Gendler says.

Despite wide-spread tourism dollar-loss across the entire Gulf Coast region, sports commission figures for 2010 soared through the roof. In 2010, the commission recruited and/or serviced 68 events–17 more events than in 2009, and generated 38,142 room nights for the island–a 64-percent increase over the 23,155 room nights in 2009.

Ultimately, these events resulted in a $12.8-million tourism impact, a $5-million increase over the previous year.

“Partnerships across all levels have been the single biggest factor generating our success,” Gendler says. “Excellent and constant communication among all involved groups has resulted in positives for everyone.

“As we grew and succeeded, our sponsors, industry partners, and cities also reaped the benefits of our partnership. These key relationships are the cornerstone of our sports commission.”

For information on the Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Sports Commission, visit www.gulfshoresorangebeachsports.com.

Kim Chapman serves as the public-relations manager for Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism, which is the official destination management organization that promotes 32 miles of Alabama’s sugar-white beaches from the tip of Fort Morgan to the Alabama-Florida state line. A life-long area resident, she also has the opportunity to handle the media-relations needs for the area’s sports commission. 

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