Lou Mengsol, CSEE, SMP and president of the USSC, chose Sarasota because he believed it was “a unique destination…and an ideal fit for the USSC this year.” He was pleased with the abundance of positive feedback from this years attendees, like Nicole Rissler, Directory of Sports at Sarasota County Sports Commission.
Nicole was part of a long list of satisfied participants. She believed that “A combination of great attractions, outdoor activities and a fantastic venue in the Ritz Carlton made this year’s Sports Congress a fantastic success.” As a resident of Sarasota, she believes that the “world class facilities combined with a number one beach in America, beautiful weather year-round and multiple attractions make any tournament a family vacation” for all sporting competitors. She went on to say that the reason she loves USSC is because of “The opportunity to show off our incredible community to a vast group of event-rights holders and other sports organizations.” Nicole, along with Lou, are already looking forward to next year in Reno, Nevada.
Although every year rights holders come from all over the country, Florida, more than any other state, always has the most participants. Recognizing the Floridians’ faithfulness and passion for his event, Mengsol said he wanted to show his gratitude, by holding the December 2012 conference in the Sunshine State.
The USSC has gained national recognition for its all-star line-ups of inspirational speakers and at times unexpected celebrity appearances. This year did not disappoint. Representatives from IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, a prestigious youth athletic academy, gave perhaps the most popular talk. Speaking on the topic “Mental Conditioning,” they discussed how success, whether in or out of sports, manifests through our conscious and subconscious thoughts and desires. If we tell ourselves not to fail, failure is inevitable, the speakers contended. But if we tell ourselves to succeed, we will do just that.
Bill Buckner’s error in the 1986 World Series, for example, ultimately led to the Red Sox losing the Series to the Mets. Just before the Series began, Buckner told a television reporter that he didn’t want to mess up and lose. According to the speakers Buckner should have said that he wanted to win the Series for his team. Other seminar topics included the ins and outs of stay to play programs as well as sessions on marketing and sponsorships.
Another highlight from Sarasota was when Dick Vitale showed up unannounced during the opening evening event. Quickly becoming the center of attention, he took a moment to share his passion and love for Sarasota in a way only Dickie V. knows how.
Unlike some other sports industry trade shows, the USSC has maintained a tight ratio of buyers to sellers. The organization has established a one-to-one ratio between buyers and sellers as their “guiding principle” in organizing the event each year. Looking to the future, Mengsol expects continued growth but he never wants to lose the event’s intimacy. Uniqueness and a comfortable feel are what make the USSC event stand out.
Such an intimate setting allows sellers to interact and network on a more personal level with rights holders, which vary in size and geographic location. Buyers from Olympic sports to Pro Disc Golf Associations, USA Shooting and Archery to Youth Golf and Basketball of America, even USA Badminton, Triathlon and US Figure Skating found their way into the mix. These organizations represent hundreds of amateur athletic events. Mengsol prides himself on providing a comfortable setting with intriguing professional development sessions that leave representatives wanting more.
Approximately 60 booths are set up by sports commissions and convention and visitors bureaus from around the country, with two separate sessions schedule for buyers and sellers to discuss business in an open trade show format.
Sports Planning Guide publisher Jeff Gayduk likes this format. “The attendees at the conference are all professional, they don’t need to be told where to be every 10 minutes, or forced into interaction with destinations that aren’t a good fit for their events.” Gayduk said. “This open format allows for a free exchange of ideas where meaningful business takes place outside a 10 minute window.”
Mengsol understands how important uniqueness is to his success, which is why it remains invitation only. He “invites people from within the industry who really understand the business of sports,” keeping the Congress “a very intimate event.” In this way he can “balance what the rights holders are doing juxtaposed to destinations and industry suppliers,” maintaining a balance between buyers and sellers and allowing them plenty of time to interact, whether at a congress event, dinner, over a round of golf or just out for a drink.
If you’re interested in finding out more about USSC this December 2013 in Reno, you can call the home office at 608-363-0873 or visit www.ussportscongress.com for more information. UUSC is also available on Facebook.
– Jent Botterman