Wells’ job axed ahead of completed consultants’ report

By TONY TAGLAVORE, Journal Sports

Last month’s decision to eliminate the position of executive director of the Shreveport-Bossier Sports Commission was made a before a consulting firm completed its assessment and issued a final, written report of the organizational structure of both the commission and its parent entity, the Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau.

Last week, following The Journal’s public records request for a copy of the report, Bureau President Stacy Brown said it wasn’t completed.

“This work is in progress and at its conclusion, a formal report will be forthcoming in the near future and will be shared with you when it is received,” Brown said via e-mail.

When asked if that meant eliminating the commission’s executive director position was based on a verbal assessment by the consultant, and not a written assessment, Brown said there were “numerous discussions” with the firm.

On March 30, Kelly Wells — the Sports Commission’s executive director since 2011 — was told his position was being cut immediately. The next day, after an inquiry by The Journal, the bureau issued a press release which said the decision was part of an outside firm’s assessment of the bureau and the commission.

“The consultant has come into our market, conducted interviews and focus groups with staff, board and some industry partners,” Brown said via email. “When considering some of the recommendations, we also conducted research and talked with colleagues at convention and visitor bureaus and sports commissions in comparable markets that have implemented a similar structure and are thriving.”

Monday, The Journal spoke with Tammy Blount-Canavan, executive vice president and principal of Fired Up! Culture, the consulting firm hired for the organizational review. Blount-Canavan said she was not comfortable speaking without the Bureau’s permission. However, when asked if it was unusual for a client to make a decision such as eliminating an executive director position before her firm issued its final report, Blount-Canavan said, “It depends on the circumstance.”         

Neither Brown or Blount-Canavan gave a specific time frame as to when the final report will be delivered.

Pam Glorioso, chairman of the bureau’s board of directors, defended the decision to make the change sooner rather than later. While Wells’ position will not be filled, other positions — and openings — within both the commission and the bureau, will have new responsibilities as a result of the restructuring. Glorioso explained that it would not be fair to hire someone for any position, then change their role shortly after they were on board.

Glorioso also believes the local sports commission can do more with less.

“What we learned, when talking with other communities, is that this sports commission is larger than the sports commission in Houston. That’s kind of hard to believe that this six-person group here—you would think they would have that or more in a bigger community.”

The Sports Commission, responsible for bringing events to the area which will increase tourism, spends time and manpower managing those events. Glorioso said that may soon change.

“We’ve put a lot of emphasis on events that we’ve grown and we’ve brought to the community. We’re still trying to run those, and I see some more changes coming on board perhaps to let those events go out to promoters and people that can run those events on their own. Then we can go out and recruit more events for the community…If you’re spending all your time grooming what you already have, you don’t have time to go out and get anything else.”