Sports: Producing a Major Impact

Inside the Huddle

by Scott Ramsey

Over the past 20 years, Nashville has grown into one of the premier sports destinations in the country. There’s no single key to this success, but many: public and civic leadership, sparkling facilities, great hospitality industry partners, hundreds of volunteers, and thousands of welcoming folks that just make Music City, well, Music City.

With the recent announcement of the 2016 NHL All-Star Game, nearly a year to the date of our announcement of 12 consecutive SEC Basketball Tournaments in Nashville, I truly believe that we will reflect back on the past 12 months as one of our best years ever, second only to 1998-99 when our city experienced an unprecedented launch of both NFL and NHL inaugural seasons!  As I enter my 20th year as part of the Nashville Sports Council and Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl organizations, I can say with confidence that this has been one of the most exciting periods in our history.

Over the past twelve months, there were many great achievements, both large and small, public and private, short-term impacts and long-term positioning, but here are a few of the items that I believe strengthened the foundation of our organizations and created tremendous energy and excitement in the community that will deliver a tremendous impact on Nashville:

Sporting events are the backbone of our organizations, a year in review:

  • The 2014 NCAA Women’s Final Four was widely recognized as the best ever staged as stated by administrators, fans, coaches, players and media.  What a tremendous accomplishment for a “first time” host city.
  • The 15th annual Country Music Marathon and ½ Marathon moved the start line to downtown and our city staged it beautifully; the event continues to rank in the top 3 nationally for participation in a full and half marathon combined.
  • Our events generated over $68 million in direct economic impact this year – the highest single-year total in our history.
  • The Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl held its 16th annual game and reached nearly $250 million in total direct economic impact.
  • Nearly 5,000 volunteer shifts were fulfilled that totaled over 31,000 volunteer hours worked in support of our events this year.

Exciting announcements fill the sports calendar for years to come:

  • The Nashville Sports Council and Bridgestone Arena secured an unprecedented 12 consecutive SEC Basketball tournaments: 9 Men’s and 3 Women’s for the years 2015-2026.
  • The NHL awarded Nashville and the Bridgestone Arena the 2016 NHL All-Star game; a monumental achievement with far-reaching national and international impact.  The Nashville Predators and Nashville Sports Council will share event responsibilities.
  • The Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl secured extensions with the SEC to play against either the ACC or Big Ten (due to a unique partnership with the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl) in a much improved selection position over the next six years.  Additionally, ESPN has agreed to broadcast the Bowl for the next twelve years.   Franklin American Mortgage Company has graciously agreed to continue to serve as our title sponsor for this next contract cycle as well.
  • The Nashville Sports Council and LP Field will host the opening regular season football game for the University of Tennessee Volunteers on September 5, 2015, against the UAB Blazers.
  • In partnership with the Ohio Valley Conference and Bridgestone Arena, the Nashville Sports Council submitted bids for a future NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship 2nd and 3rd Rounds and another NCAA Women’s Final Four.

The successes of the past year are shared with many stakeholders:
–  the staff who have worked tirelessly to represent the city and our events professionally;
–  the volunteers who give their time to serve as the “face” of our events to our guests who participate and attend;
–  the members and sponsors who faithfully give their resources to allow our city to successfully compete for and secure these events that make a positive impact on our community. We achieved record growth in our membership this year;
–  the Board of Directors for their leadership and continual support within our organization and throughout the community;
–  our venue partners who willingly juggle schedules to make the event bids possible and successful and our membership activities unique and engaging; 
–  our friends in Metro and the hospitality industry, including Mayor Karl Dean and his staff along with Vice Mayor Diane Neighbors and the Metro Council for support in our efforts to make Nashville a premier sports destination.

I look forward to this coming year as we experience the opportunity to host these great events, continue to add exciting events to our schedule, and work to increase support and engagement through our membership program, volunteer program, and attendance at the various venues.   

Again, thank you for your support in making Nashville a great sports community and assisting us in developing a reputation as a sports host city second to none!  I hope to see you soon at a Sports Council activity and share the excitement of these achievements with you!

Scott Ramsey serves as President & CEO of the Nashville Sports Council and Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl. Scott can be reached at SRamsey@NashvilleSports.com.