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Managing a Sporting Event
Regardless of the Venue or Sport, Certain Requirements MUST be Met!
Take me out to the ballgame, take me out to the crowd! Then I also want to eat some Cracker Jacks, have a great show and a safe time and make it home again. Do you have any idea what goes into a great sporting event? The planning begins well before a major event and we will explore some of those concepts here. The goal ultimately determines the plan and may not be the same for everyone. Exploring other sports than what you are comfortable with can help you find some ideas that can make your next event more appealing and run more smoothly than your prior experience has been.
Planning, Universal Elements
Exploring the possibilities can make the difference between a successful event and a disaster. Many of these concepts are applicable regardless of the sport or venue. All of these ideas may spur other ideas for your own consideration, but be sure it is really something you want to do.
1. Location: Is the location for the event accessible for all those who may want to come? Is the location in an area where those attending can leave their cars of find parking that they don't feel like they need to hire someone to watch their car? Is the location designed to handle the number of people you anticipate participating and attending the event? What happens if there are 50% more wanting to attend? Do your ticket sales include parking? Are these tickets pre-sold? Are there tickets? Are there parking passes? Do you have any historical information regarding handling an event similar to the one you are planning? Is the location zoned to allow for this event? Are the facilities adequate for the crowd you intend to bring? We need to explore the facilities a bit further.
Your Attendees Should be Comfortable Where They Park
Evaluating the cost you will have for a certain venue goes beyond just the rent of the facility. Renting the facility is a good first step, but you need to look into what that includes. Does it include parking? Are there variations on electricity? Do you need water? Will there be any need for additional toilet facilities in parking or inside? Are there limitations on what you can modify for the facility? Can you haul in or out anything in the facility? Will you need to modify or provide any changes to the facility that are not readily available in the city or town you are holding the event?
I know, it seems like there are a million questions to answer - and there are. These just scratch the surface but must be answered. I still haven't gotten into much of the physical aspects of the location, safety issues, police or some private security or even the distribution of defibrillators (AEDs). You may only need a yes or no answer to many of these questions, but at least explore the concept before doing so.
2. Facilities: This doesn't just mean when you need to go inside or even a stadium. Facilities for a big soccer game may be in a field somewhere, but you still have the need to modify or adjust what is there so there is some meaningful design to how things are going to happen. I have been to outdoor games that I had no idea where I was supposed to park, where the group I was looking for was participating or how to find them. I have been to events where there was no designated parking events. I have had things stolen from my car because where I had to park was an unsafe location to begin with.
A man can usually find a place to relieve himself given the need and a bit of determination. Women, at least in the U.S. and most developed countries, are a bit more discreet and require some sort of toilet. It happens and must be planned for ahead of time. It isn't acceptable to not plan ahead for this need.
Insurance is just as important as a renter as it is an owner. Not just insurance in the event you destroy a part of the facility or an irate fan tears a door off the hinges. You must carry insurance to protect your company or yourself in the event of an attendee falling, getting hurt, getting into a fight, and if you intend to sell alcohol at the event there is that chance of someone driving off into an accident on the highway.
Will You Be Offering Food
Depending on the type of event, and duration, you may be interested in offering food to the attendees. Will this be through sub-contractors? Will you get a piece of the action or just charge the vendors a fee to participate? Will the facilities need additional electricity or gas to operate? Water is an issue for cooking, cleaning, and drinking. It must be checked out ahead of time. What are the legal requirements for food at your location, in particular for alcohol sales?
Food can be a large source of income from an event. Don't just farm it out because it is easy to do so. Consider a hybrid agreement with your vendors. Make the fee to be a vendor a little bit less but require 10%-20% of gross receipts as the rent.
Don't forget if you have food, you have trash. Plan ahead to handle all the trash. It can be daunting when you find out just how much garbage can be generated per person then multiplied by all the attendees.
Plans for the Teams
So far, our primary concern has been for the attendees - they are the ones that will be paying for the event but who draws the crowds? Sports teams are about the same as musical performers, and have many of the same requirements. There are some universal requirements for big names or professional teams. These are often provided in any contract offering. Clean locker rooms with individual showers, lockers that can be locked and secured, rooms that are secured against non-team member entry, fan restricted areas, and climate control. You better ask if the teams want food to be delivered or provided in any way prior to their arrival. Ask too, if there are any food restrictions or requirements.
Will there be a potential need for a doctor? Some sports teams have a team doctor. It is a good idea in a number of sports, to have a physician available at the venue. You may also need to plan ahead with the local EMT response to have an ambulance on site. Do not assume one will be enough and understand what is required for the second and third if needed on a moment's notice.
Does the event require any special licenses and local approvals? I work with shooting events where guns and ammunition are used (live ammo, real shooting) so you can imagine there are some restrictions required on both the vendors and the event organizers. Know what the surrounding areas of the event are and understand how to get in and get out in a hurry if needed.
Bring your officials together long before the event and go over any and all potential calls that may be controversial. Have a plan on how to handle any controversial calls - not so much with the call on the field, those are usually right out of a rule book. It is how the call is handled as far as the crowd is concerned. If you have a jumbo-tron don't keep running it over and over, for example, if the view you have on the jumbo-tron is counter to what the referee has called on the field. Inciting the crowd can lead to irrational behavior, riots, and bad actors.
If there are some rules that are used locally but not conventional or used universally, be sure teams are aware that you will be using the specific rules. Otherwise it appears to be home cooking and some advantage for one group over the other.
Your advertising must include certain information. Biggest and boldest are the name of the event and the dates of the event. Next is location of the event and time. Finally is how to get tickets, and a phone number for information. If you are going to do radio or television or internet advertising, use the same format - that is spend more time on the name of the event which should indicate what it is and who is coming, and when it is. Cost of tickets isn't as important except where someone is actually buying tickets to the venue. Be sure to advertise in markets that participate in the sport. It is more important with advertising to reach those who are most likely to want to come. Fertile ground is much better than trying to reach that one more person to attend. Spending a little in an area that isn't a great place is typically wasted dollars.
Guides and Support
Beyond your own security that we discussed earlier, provide ushers or guides with brightly colored or easily identified clothing so attendees can get directions and answers to their questions. It is so important to be able to find your seat, find your food, find the restroom and find the way to the car.
I hope this has given you some ideas before you start out on your next sports program. Good luck!