SPOTLIGHT: Consultant says Sports Commission’s posture threatened CVB’s culture

BACK FOR MORE: The U.S. Women’s National Team, which began its run to an Olympic Gold medal in Bossier City, will be back late this month for an international competition assisted by the Shreveport-Bossier Sports Commission.

By TONY TAGLAVORE, Journal Sports

The Shreveport-Bossier Sports Commission is segregated from the rest of the Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau, which “is a point of great concern for the culture and stability of the entire organization.”

That is according to an eight-page organizational assessment conducted by a Washington State-based consulting firm.

The report by Fired-Up! Culture is part of a $34,500 contract with the Bureau, which includes other services and “multiple visits to the market for on-site training,” said Bureau President and CEO Stacy Brown.

“The leadership of the sports development team is not best served in segregation from the rest of the organization,” the assessment reads. “This has caused significant distance and lack of equity and understanding between the sports team and the rest of the organization.”

Brown agreed. The Commission is a division of the Bureau.

“In recent years, it (sports commission staff) has become more segmented, where other staff members were really not participating in that,” Brown said. “What we’re doing is realigning to be able to use all of the staff more efficiently. For instance, we’ve had basically just one person working on sports marketing, out of a team of people that work on marketing. They all need to be integrated together so that sports is a part of all the marketing that we do.”

March 31, almost a month before the assessment was complete, the Bureau eliminated the Commission’s executive director position. Kelly Wells had been in that role for 12 years. Sara Nelms now has the title Director of Sports, Shreveport-Bossier Sports Commission.

“Somebody has to own it,” said a nationally-recognized sports tourism expert, referring to the need for a point person when it comes to sports-related events. The expert reviewed the assessment at the Journal’s request. The expert requested anonymity, so as not to jeopardize any current or future projects.

“Especially in a destination like Shreveport that has such a rich history in sports,” the expert said. “(Shreveport) has a lot of great assets and has been doing (sports) a long time. It would be really hard to have a hybrid person in the (Convention and Visitors Bureau) that says ‘Oh, I dabble in sports as a director, and I’m over here doing this other stuff.’”

The assessment includes 15 recommendations for the Bureau and Commission to implement.

The first is for the Bureau to do an analysis of the cost, and return on investment, for each segment of business development, including sports.

“Our cost per sports delegate is higher than the norm,” Brown said. “So, we’re spending more money to get a sports delegate here than a lot of other communities are. So, looking at how we make sure we maximize our return on investment is very important.”

The expert said spending more money on sports is not a negative.

“Whatever the sports commission is driving compared to the other markets — leisure, conventions, meetings, those type things — it should get that percentage back as far as in support. That’s a huge thing. We see that a lot in small markets, where sports drives the ship, but then they’re an afterthought as far as budgetary concerns.”

Other recommendations include conducting a professional study to determine if the Bureau is paying a fair and competitive salary. Brown said that work has already started.

“Part of what we’re looking at is how we are positioned within the market,” Brown said, “but also, how are we positioned within our competitive set—which is other bureaus that are likely to steal from us.”

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