Eugene (KMTR) – A newly-formed team has kicked off a drive to bring more big-time sporting events to Lane County. It’s a collaboration of dozens of tourism and sports professionals who say they mean business when it comes to landing more sporting events.
Travel Lane County has launched the Eugene, Cascades and Coast Sports Commission, which is made up of more than 30 local professionals with either sports or tourism ties. The commission was formally announced Monday at Matthew Knight Arena at the University of Oregon.
The central idea is communication. Together, they plan to coordinate, evaluate and make bids to host new events.
Economically, the group agrees that sports is fairly recession-proof and brings in tons of local spending.
A centerpiece for the effort is the Matthew Knight Arena. It is a state-of-the-art facility with a crew that can change it over from a tennis court to bull-riding arena overnight.
The competition to land the big events, however, is a much bigger challenge, according to U. of O. Athletic Director Rob Mullens.
“When you're talking about the hospitality—really the hotel rooms—the transportation, how do we get them in to a town this size, and then how do we get them around, particularly for the larger events? All that works together and it takes a really coordinated effort and a collaborative group to be able to compete with the cities and towns who are used to doing this,” Said Mullens.
The commission’s Executive Director Janis Ross said it will try to bring in big, new events and then ask them to make Lane County their home.
“They think, ‘There's a group that's serious about sports. There's a group that knows what I am talking about, talks my talk. They can provide me with the support I need, and they can get things done,'” Ross said. “And so, that's of course a sports event planner wants to take their event; some place that they know its going to be successful and know they're going to be supported.”
Success for the sports commission should mean a major economic boost, as well. The commission estimates between this January and July 2014, the sporting events already planned will infuse $47 million into the local economy.The commission will meet quarterly to talk about future events. They will also have a sports summit in the spring which will be open to everyone, to talk more about the existing sporting events in the Lane County area.