Feet have finally been on the soccer fields at the Etowah County Mega Sports Complex. Now, it’s time for some changes.
Sooner than later, according to Hugh Stump, chairman of the complex’s governing authority, the name is going to be changed to reflect what the facility actually is.
More significantly, the authority has contracted with Great Plains Sponsorships, based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and Omaha, Nebraska, to market naming rights and corporate partnership and sponsorship possibilities for the complex.
“None of us has the expertise, skill or time to go out and find people to sponsor the fields, the complex and the amenities,” Stump said. “They (Great Plains) have a great track record in other markets.”
Founded by Ryan Querry, GPS specializes in generating sustainable revenue streams for sports complexes, municipalities, aquatic centers, youth organizations, nonprofits, entertainment venues, stadiums, arenas, and other projects via naming and pouring rights and sponsorships.
“We work with authority boards and parks and recreation boards across the U.S,” said Ryan Patrick, the company’s vice president. “We handle outreach, hold meetings, do asset valuations, make proposals and make sure the public is aware of the possibilities. Then we bring them back to the authorities to review.”
Stump said the authority is looking for someone willing to purchase naming rights for the complex as a whole, then for individual sponsorships for each of the six fields, the concession stand and the like. Such things can often get complicated, with multi-word names designed to check every box, but the authority wants to keep it simple.
“We know we’re going to change the name in the next month or so,” he said, “because it’s not a mega sports complex. There’s no money for other phases; it’s six soccer fields.”
Stump said Rainbow City needs to be in the name for marketing purposes — it’s where the complex is located and the city hopes to develop the adjoining area — and the most likely scenario is “‘something’ fields at Rainbow City.”
“It can’t be like the (existing) Vivian Lee Maddox Sports Complex, and we don’t want it to be the Rainbow City Soccer Complex,” he said.
Patrick said GPS’ top priority is local sponsors, before it branches out across the region and nationally. He thinks the Rainbow City complex is an attractive “product.”
“Youth sports tourism is bigger than the NFL,” he said. “But this is bigger than revenue. You’re taking care of kids in your backyard, and building relationships by working through the clutter.
“You’re not buying a billboard; you’re buying something that’s going to be on (a schedule on) someone’s refrigerator for 10 or 12 months out of the year, or on tournament jerseys and packages,” Patrick said. “It becomes a landmark, and you only have one chance to be new.”
The complex’s location also is an advantage. Patrick said Alabama Department of Transportation data indicates that each day, 10,000 cars pass the intersection of Rainbow Drive (U.S. Highway 411) and Lumley Road and another 18,500 pass the intersection of Alabama Highway 77 and Lindsey Street — the main entry points into the complex, which is on Kinzie Lane.
“That’s potentially 10.5 million people a year,” he said.
The long-delayed complex had an “unofficial” opening last month when it hosted the Northeast Alabama Soccer Officials’ annual training event, which included 29 boys’ and girls’ teams playing multiple games to give referees the required training to be able to officiate in the state playoffs.
“We had 3,000 people there, and that’s with us staying under the radar and barely having the keys to open the place,” Stump said. “We really haven’t publicized (the complex; that comes in next few months.”
Those interested in sponsorships at the complex can contact Patrick at Ryan.Patrick@greatplainssponsorships.com.
Source: Gadsden Times
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