City Considering Plan to Use Amateur Sports Events for Revenue

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COLUMBIA - The Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau wants a consulting firm to help it better utilize amateur sports for creating revenue for the city.

The bureau's web communications manager, Megan McConachie said the bureau teamed up with Columbia Parks and Recreation to commission a sports feasibility study. The study will give the city a road map on how to best achieve increased revenue for the city by tapping into amateur sports events.

For example, when a youth softball or adult soccer league comes to Columbia for a sporting event they stay in local hotels, shop and eat at Columbia restaurants. McConachie said these actions boost local economy. McConachie said by understanding ways to bring more teams to Columbia that revenue will grow.

The city council is expected vote Monday to approve $95,000 for Victus Advisors to conduct the sports feasibility study. The funds come from the Convention and Visitors Bureau unreserved fund balance.

McConachie recognized the high price, but said she believes the comprehensiveness of the study will bring far greater income to the city.

"They'll be out in the community a lot while they're here talking to people, really getting to understand our sports product and our sports organizations that already exist and then generating a really specific road map on how we can move forward and continue to attract those sporting events so the return on that investment is going to be far and above what we initially spend."

The $95,000 is a flat fee and covers the expenses of the consultants while they are in Columbia. McConachie said the consultant will likely visit four times to identify what people in Columbia like and areas the city can expand to build more revenue.

The goal of the study is outlined in the supporting documentation for Monday's vote. It outlined the goals to include:

• Retain and strengthen existing sporting events
• Attract and develop new sporting events
• Develop necessary economic resources, identifying revenue streams for long range funding of events and facilities
• Foster better relationships with sports-related entities
• Stimulate economic activity and enhance quality of life in the area

McConachie said Columbia already has venues and groups that organize events for the city. The consultant will inventory those groups to better understand what Columbia can offer to incoming teams. Understanding the resources will help the Convention and Visitor Bureau staff sell Columbia as a sports destination.

The plan falls under the citywide strategic plan, which city leaders implemented for 2012-2015.

The City of Columbia, Missouri Strategic Plans state the mission is to "Make Columbia the best place to live, work, learn and play by fostering a safe, equitable, sustainable, and healthy economy, community and environment through a democratic and fiscally responsible government."

Under the health, well-being and safety initiative, the exploration of creating a sports advisory board is listed. Monday, the city council could vote to move the initiative forward to its next stage.

As of Monday morning, the Convention and Visitors Bureau had not spoken with any of the voting city council members and did not know if it would pass. Since it was outlined in the city plan several years ago, McConachie said she is confident it has been established as a priority for the city.