In about a week’s time, athletes of all ages and skill levels will congregate in the Springs for the 2002 Rocky Mountain State Games. Archers, pool sharks, goalies, marathoners, black belts, point guards and the like from all over Colorado will test their mettle in the three-day Olympic-style event.
Preparations for this event have been underway since September 2000 when the Colorado Springs Sports Corporation (CS Sports Corp.) secured sanctioning from the National Congress of Games. Colorado will become the 40th state to host this type of competition. The CS Sports Corp. is expecting more than 1,000 participants, and the basic rule of thumb is three fans per competitor. According to Jean Watson, sports sales and special events manager for the Colorado Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau, this event will provide a nice boost to local economy in a much needed time.
After the games were sanctioned, a number of marketing, administrative and business questions arose all at once. In order to stage such an event, there are certain characteristics that a community must possess. Especially since the similarly styled Colorado State Games fizzled out in Denver and, more recently, in Fort Collins. The games need volunteers to run the events, sports commissioners to oversee each competition, facilities to host the events, not to mention sponsors and alliances with community organizations.
The fact that the local economy is intertwined with the business of sports is nowhere more present than in the existence of a nonprofit promoter of sports organization and activities like the CS Sports Corp. That, combined with the presence of the United States Olympic Committee makes Colorado Springs a perfect match for the games on paper. However, the who, what, when, and where of such an event demands a number of business decisions.
So, what type of business plan might a sports promotion company need to follow in order to ensure the success of these games in a city that has sports running through its veins?
The CS Sports Corp. has decided to treat the games as a small business, and for good reason. For any start-up business to get off the ground, it needs to concentrate on a few key elements: its customers, its service and its product.
Therefore, the first Rocky Mountain State Games will be relatively small by design. Since the Springs, and Colorado in general have such a dynamic sports community, it stands to reason that 15 sport categories could border a little on the conservative side. However, with a nonprofit agency in charge of producing the event, the city has the luxury of not going full-out in order to have a healthy bottom line.
Instead, the plan that the games will follow is a community and relationship building plan that will allow the event to grow and become successful over time. The most important ingredient for that success is the customer, as Darryl Seibel, chief operating office for the CS Sports Corp. explains. “Our overriding priority is to provide a first class competitive experience for all of our participants.”
So, the games plan on promising only what they can deliver, a consistent level of both service and product for all sport categories.
For an event that comes along only once a year, and for the purposes of growing any small company, nothing can be more important than the prospect of securing a return customer.
Likewise, word of mouth and never having a second chance to make a first impression play a pivotal role in long-term success, and the Games are not going to burn any bridges in their first year.
Now that asset number one has been secured, the business plan must now concentrate on how to cater to the fans. Not coincidentally, however, even the fan component of the marketing effort centers around the participants themselves.
At the Air Force Academy, which is where most of the competitions are being held, an Olympic-style sponsor village is being created. Fans will have a number of interactive opportunities, product offerings, music and games to keep them busy when they are away from the action. Since the spectators of these “peoples’ games” are most likely going to be friends or relatives of the participants, admission will be free. This policy may not continue as years go by, but initially, since the participants come first in this sporting event, so do their loyal followers.
Nothing too extreme, something for participants of all skill levels, a free pass and an Olympic village at the Air Force Academy definitely sounds like a recipe for success at the first-ever Rocky Mountain State Games.