Explore Lawrence creating new position of sports business development director

photo by: Mike Yoder

Track and field athletes stop in the infield during the USATF National Junior Olympics opening ceremony on Tuesday, July 25, 2017. More than 8,000 athletes attended the Junior Olympics at Rock Chalk Park.

Explore Lawrence will be interviewing potential candidates this month for the new position of sports business development director.

The person in that position will be expected to aggressively pursue sports tourism, said Michael Davidson, executive director of Explore Lawrence.

Explore Lawrence is the convention and visitors bureau, which is funded through the city’s transient guest tax fund. The tax is collected from guests at local hotels and designated to promote tourism.

“Our role is to look at events that Lawrence can host,” Davidson said. “There is potentially a strong market for Lawrence to bring in sporting events, especially with the development of a new soccer complex.” Plans for the soccer complex along the South Lawrence Trafficway, east of Lawrence, were reported in the Journal-World in January.

There’s an incentive to move quickly on this position, Davidson said, because of recent changes in how the NCAA is looking for hosts for its events. In August, the NCAA plans to announce specifics regarding 86 NCAA championships from 2022 through 2026. The NCAA will be accepting bids to host events in track and field, volleyball and cross country, among others.

“We want to be in a position to take advantage of this,” Davidson said. “There is great potential because of our location, and Lawrence is perceived as a good place to bring events. We’re excited and want to be prepared.”

In addition to sales and bringing in new events, the sports business development director will put together a group of event planners to focus on key components of event logistics, Davidson said.

“It has become such a competitive market segment that we need to do it right away,” Davidson said.

At one time, the now-defunct Lawrence Sports Corporation was affiliated with Explore Lawrence, but the two organizations severed ties in 2016. The sports corporation has since disbanded.

The salary for the new position is in the $50,000 to $55,000 range and will come from Explore Lawrence’s regular city allocation. Davidson said he had received a dozen applications and had narrowed candidates down to two. He and representatives from the Explore Lawrence board plan to interview the candidates on July 16.

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