During a recent interview I was asked what the most important factor is in developing facilities.  My response was easy, “Political will.”  While my answer was a simple one, the process to even get to it is not.  Let me explain.

At some point along the facility development process, you will need someone at a very high level to endorse your vision and to help it get to the finish line.   This usually comes in the form of an influential elected official (or multiple elected officials).  However, to get to the point where you can actually ASK for the support of others, there are several things that need to take place first.  Here they are……

  • Get Beyond the Concept – You need more than an idea and a pretty picture (aka architect designs).  There is a saying in the industry, “Everyone has a pretty picture.”  This really means everyone can make a brochure that look nice and makes the property/facility/company look great.  Artist renderings are one thing, having a viable project is entirely another.
  • Do the Math – Conduct an independent feasibility study.  Political leaders want to know three things: what will he facility cost, how much do we need to invest in the venue each year, and what is the economic output that will likely result from the investment in the first two questions.  If the last answer is positive relatable to the initial and ongoing (subsidy) investment, then the political leaders can endorse your vision.
  • Storytelling – Once you have the concept in place and a solid third-party feasibility study in hand that supports your idea, you need to start building a team of avid fans.  That involves storytelling on what the facility will do not only for sports tourism, but for the local community user groups as well.  The two go hand in hand.  To get to a positive political will, you need both the local user groups and the tourism community to endorse your vision.  In our experience, without both the local groups and the tourism/economic development angle, new projects don’t get to the start line.
  • Sales – This isn’t selling the facility to event rights holders, it’s about selling your concept to the key payers you need to get it moving towards a positive finish (most likely a funding mechanism).  Do your homework, get the data, tell your story, then sell it to the key players you need to make it reality.

Political will is a result of the four elements outlined above.  It’s not the start, it’s the finish.

To go a step further, this process works for almost any area of our lives.  We need an idea (a pathway), a reasonable business plan to make sense of it, a message to communicate it, and a dedicated time to ask for other people to buy in.  Think about it.  Pursuing a potential spouse, trying to raise money for a new business venture, coaching a team.  They all require this same process.  Vision.  Data.  Message points.  Sell it.  Pretty simple.

For more on the subject of political will and facility development, join me along with our good friend Eric Sullivan from SFA for a free webinar on February 27th.  You can RSVP for the event at this link – http://info.sportadvisory.com/financewebinar.

About the author:

Jon Schmieder is the Founder of the Huddle Up Group LLC, a sports industry consulting company led by award winning executives.  Schmieder has over 20 years of experience in leading sports tourism and events organizations through strategic growth and increased community collaboration.  The Huddle Up Group has worked with more than 75 sports organizations and destinations on over 150 strategic projects.  In 2017 the Huddle Up Group was given the Superior Service Award, the highest honor a consulting firm can earn from the National Association of Sports Commissions.  We can be reached at Jon@HuddleUpGroup.com or 602.369.6955.  To receive the weekly “Monday Huddle Up” visit www.HuddleUpGroup.com or sign up at www.tinyletter.com/JonSchmieder.