With a knack for attracting new sports event rights holders and destinations, timely educational sessions about topics that are important in today’s marketplace, and an unprecedented 1:1 ratio of buyers and sellers, the United States Sports Congress has become known as the place where real business gets done in the sports events industry.
The 7th annual event was held at the completely renovated Grand Sierra Resort and Casino in Reno, Nevada, this past December 9-11. Showing off 2,000 completely remodeled rooms, a new casino floor, upscale restaurants and an expansive sports book/bar, the Grand Sierra is setting the tone for hospitality in the Reno/Tahoe area.
Congress president Lou Mengsol is intent on keeping the intimate feel which allows attendees to learn and work together. “The Congress has become the genesis of lasting partnerships that provide real economic impact to both sides,” Mengsol said. Congress attendees agree. In a Facebook post, Brian Graham from the Professional Disc Golf Association notes “…following a very successful US Sports Congress, North Lake Tahoe announced a grant to create a national level PDGA disc golf tournament in 2014.”
Mengsol notes, “We see the Congress becoming the nexus for ideas and building relationships in the sports event industry. That’s one of the reason why we attract new people each year and those attendees are thought-leaders with a strong entrepreneurial spirit from within the industry.”
Rights holders appreciate the open trade show format where they are encouraged to visit every vendor, but aren’t limited by “speed dating” restrictions that plague other shows. “The reality”, noted one delegate, “is it takes more than 8 minutes to determine if a city a good fit for our event. I leave other shows with more questions than answers. That doesn’t happen here.”
The Congress puts a huge emphasis on continuing education and this event was no exception. Public speaker and author Allan Fahden made a return visit to the US Sports Congress with new insights and innovation to share. His keynote speech helped reveal the secrets to why teams and innovation are so frustrating. Al shared his insights into how context and perception color the decision-making process.
Vern Conaway from the Maryland Stadium Authority spoke to the audience about security policies and procedures. Event security has taken a front seat in event operations and budgets for tournaments ranging in size from local to collegiate to the Olympics. The audience learned how to maximize security efforts, keeping athletes and spectators safe.
Danny Heinsohn from Access Pass & Design shared “10 Principles of Success” developed over many years working with some of the biggest brands in the business including Nike, Red Bull and the New York Yankees.
Noted industry authority Jon Schmieder from the Huddle Up Group conducted two interactive breakout sessions which led attendees through case studies from the sports tourism and events industry. Small groups crafted solutions to the issues at hand and presented to the larger group for discussion and debate. The sessions armed the attendees with best practice concepts to take back to their markets for implementation.
John Wolohan, Professor at Syracuse University discussed findings from last year’s World Anti-Doping Conference. The conference was centered on the World Anti-Doping Code review process which began in late 2011, and the resulting draft version of the 2015 Code. At the same time as the review of the Code, four of WADA’s five associated International Standards also underwent a thorough consultation process including “International Standards for Testing.” Attendees learned how these new standards will impact events and athletes in the future.
Outside the congress sessions, the group enjoyed a day of mountain-top networking in nearby Lake Tahoe. Blessed by a recent snowfall, the group got to enjoy some of the best skiing in North America. Those not up for the slopes were rejuvenated at the Grand Sierra’s gorgeous new spa facility. During the opening night ice-breaker, the group also worked on their 7-10 splits at the National Bowling Stadium, made famous by the movie Kingpin and site of the men’s and women’s National Bowling Congress championships.
The final night reception and dinner transported delegates to the old south, courtesy of the evening’s host; the Savannah Sports Council. The group sampled cocktails and authentic southern faire while previewing the host’s plans for the 2014 US Sports Congress.
For more information, dates and registration information for the 2014 Congress, visit www.usscportscongress or call 608-363-0873.