The Tale of the Tape
Formation of the Eugene, Cascades & Coast Sports Commission
The Eugene, Cascades & Coast Sports Commission isn’t a household name (yet), so you may be wondering how is it that our sports commission was formed, what are the advantages of having a sports commission and what local sports event planners have to say about working with our sports commission.
The Eugene, Cascades & Coast Sports Commission is embedded within Travel Lane County, however sports commissions are structured differently depending on the community. It’s worth noting that the sports event planners have been a target market for Travel Lane County for decades. Sports sales staff were part of Travel Lane County and worked to bring sports events to our region.
“To me, the real difference the sports commission offers is having someone who knows sports inside and out,” points out Joey Jewell, Senior Director of the Eugene, Cascades & Coast Sports Commission.
In the early 1990’s, the cities of Eugene and Springfield joined Lane County to formalize the Lane Metro Sports Commission, which focused primarily on local sports facility coordination as a volunteer led group. In 2011, Travel Lane County volunteered to fund and administer the effort, which became the Eugene, Cascades & Coast Sports Commission, with activities expanded to include bidding and supporting sports events.
Travel Lane County President and CEO Kari Westlund recalls, “While Travel Lane County has always marketed our destination to sports events, we recognized that people passionate about sports, whether they are spectators, sponsors, or event owners, don’t think of sports as being tourism-related. The Eugene, Cascades & Coast Sports Commission was created to speak directly to sports audiences and strengthen our reputation as a sports destination while strengthening the local sports industry sector.”
With a fresh vision for the sports commission, staff was added and the focus was broadened to support local event planners while maintaining a targeted approach toward state and national sports event planners.
Sports Commission marketing is targeted toward sports event planners. Advertising campaigns attempt to pique interest in our destination and highlight sports facilities in the region and the abundance of our natural venues.
Once interest is gained, the region’s assets and the commission’s resources are brought forward for consideration by the planner. A digital Sports Planning Guide provides the key information regarding destination features such as, number of hotel rooms, detailed lists of sports facilities (fields, courts, pools, etc.), restaurants and more. Specialty services include getting pricing and booking room blocks with hotels, event marketing, assistance with permitting for road or forest events, obtaining sponsors and garnering volunteers.
“A sports sales department structure can benefit the community through booking events that create economic impact, but a sports commission provides opportunities to develop a much deeper relationship,” notes Jewell. “When COVID-19 hit, our organization stepped up to advise the Governor’s office and the Oregon Health Authority on their proposed sports and events guidelines and advocated for rules that allowed sports event planners to operate in a safe manner without halting our local economy. Another example is our work with the City of Eugene. As we’ve recognized the need for more recreational play space, we worked with City staff to research and propose what is now included in the plans for Golden Gardens Sports Complex.”
Golden Gardens Sports Complex Courtesy of City of Eugene
Event organizer Mike Ripley commented, “The Eugene, Cascades & Coast Sports Commission has helped Mudslinger Events LLC DBA Oregon Trail Runs connect and execute opportunities that lead to successful events. In our various cycling and running projects across the State with various partners, the collaborative approach of connecting the dots that leads to happy participants elevates the Eugene, Cascades & Coast Sports Commission to one of our most valued partners.”
Tim Greathouse, Moodo Taekwondo, noted, “'When we received the appointment to create the Oregon State Hanmadang from GM Sang Chul Lee in late 2017, the feeling was overwhelming. We needed to somehow manifest an innovative style of martial art tournament that had never been held in the Pacific Northwest and do it in four months! We had never hosted large events of this kind before. The Eugene, Cascades & Coast Sports Commission was an amazingly valuable resource of professionals in marketing, event planning, networking and communications and sponsorship ideas and methodologies and contacts. They provided outreach through email blasts and visibility on the many different media platforms they host. We felt connected, stabilized, watched after, and more confident to really go for it with the guidance and direction from everyone at the Sports Commission.“
Whether a local group is hosting a baseball, softball, volleyball, disc golf, shooting clays, cycling or running event, or any type of sporting activity, the Eugene, Cascades & Coast Sports Commission staff is accessible and eager to assist in making both large and small events successful, while setting the stage for bigger and better events in the future.