SFA Recruits Disney to Professionalize Sports Tourism Industry

Source: The Sports Facilities Advisory

(Clearwater, FL)  June 30, 2014—Sports travel and tourism are progressing rapidly, prompting massive expenditures for the creation of new athletic facilities throughout the U.S.  Some say that the potential growth of sports tourism has prompted many professionals to change career direction and enter the industry—a belief proven true by Sports Facilities Advisory (http://www.sportadvisory.com/) (SFA) a firm that  produces institutional-grade financial forecasts for new sports complexes and then oversees opening and management of such complexes.  SFA has recently announced the placement of several professionals from entertainment giants including Disney – leading the company to predict that the continued growth of the sports tourism sector will soon rival that of the Disney family entertainment industry that has dominated America for several decades.  SFA recently hired Steve Daugherty and Steve Eaton, both long-time veterans of Disney’s Wide World of Sports and Disney Theme Parks.

 The burgeoning youth and amateur sports tourism (http://www.sportadvisory.com/) industry has led some to compare it to that of the Walt Disney brand, which is now one of the world’s largest mass media companies, with 14 theme parks worldwide, a renowned Hollywood studio, and dozens of cable television networks.  Reports show that Walt Disney Co. employs 156,000 worldwide and brings in over $40 billion in sales every year (1)—a number seemingly soon to be echoed by the sports tourism industry, which experts say accounts for an estimated $7 billion in economic impact (2), with no signs of slowing down.  The popularity of sports tourism led even ESPN, partially owned by Walt Disney Co., to capitalize on the trend.  ESPN has partnered with Brand USA, the tourism marketing body for the United States, to produce a suite of 51 new sports tourism and destination feature videos designed to help tourists plan visits centered around sporting events. (3)

SFA is overseeing the opening and management of new sports tourism destinations across the country and around the world.  CEO Dev Pathik maintains that the growing enthusiasm is evidence of a long term shift in sports travel and tourism becoming as a sustainable element in American culture, leading the company to hire several new professionals who are seeking to bring their expertise to an expanding industry.

Steve Daugherty recently joined SFA from Disney/ESPN Wide World of Sports.  Daugherty was on the leadership team that opened Disney Wide World of Sports, and he then spent 13 years with the organization before joining SFA and its sister company, Sports Facilities Management (SFM).  Steve is the general manager for SFM-managed Rocky Top Sports World, an 80-acre indoor and outdoor sports campus located in Gatlinburg, TN, and scheduled to open in July.  His responsibilities will include supervising Rocky Top’s marketing and sales functions, as well as the day-to-day business operations.

“SFA’s goal of broadening access to youth and amateur sports complexes provides an outlet wherein I can share my expertise with the community and assist in the progression of sports tourism as a viable means of economic impact,” said Daugherty.

Steve Eaton also recently joined SFM after a 23-year career with Disney.  Steve was previously the Events and Operations Director for Disney Theme Parks in Orlando, FL.  Steve now serves as SFM’s Operations Director for Rocky Top Sports World, and will oversee the attraction of tournaments and events.  Rocky Top has already booked events for 2014-2015 which will bring more than 40,000 visitors to Gatlinburg in year one, with an estimated economic impact of $30 million within the first five years of its opening.

“SFA is looking to transform the multi-billion dollar youth and amateur sports marketplace through effective management combined with comprehensive and accurate financial oversight,” said Eaton.  “My goal behind my joining SFA is to optimize the revenue and economic and social impact of the industry, while also helping to revolutionize the sports complex management model.”

SFA has served a portfolio of more than $4 billion in planned and operational facilities.  SFA’s sister firm, SFM, is an industry leader in the managing of such complexes, and together, the two entities provide the planning, financing and management expertise needed to turn ideas into quality recreation facilities.  Between 2013 and 2014, SFA will assist in opening more than 1.5 million square feet of indoor facilities and nearly 600 acres of outdoor complexes.

While Pathik admits that it’s nearly impossible to predict the full potential of sports tourism in terms of the number of sports facilities, investment dollars and economic impact, he maintains that it is safe to say that sports and recreation centers will continue to be developed in virtually every suburban and urban community, and as a result, there will likely be an increase in the number of collaborations between sports facilities and healthcare providers, retailers, tourism businesses and technology, further professionalizing the industry and leading to new business models where retailers and healthcare providers bring massive amounts of capital to the youth and amateur sports industries, per Pathik.

For more information about the Sports Facilities Advisory and its suite of planning-funding-opening-management services, visit www.sportadvisory.com/home.html.

About Sports Facilities Advisory:

The Sports Facilities Advisory (SFA) is the leading resource in sports facility planning and management.  The Sports Facilities Advisory has helped to plan, fund, open and manage dozens of multimillion-dollar sports complexes in communities throughout the USA and internationally since its founding in 2003.  The company serves public and private clients.  Its services fall into four main categories:  plan, fund, open and manage, which encompass every phase from early stage feasibility studies to preparing financing documents, overseeing development and opening and full-time management services.  SFA’s success depends upon its mission to dramatically improve communities through the opening or optimization of sports and recreation centers.  For more information, visit www.sportadvisory.com/home.html.

1.   Navellier, Louis.  “Disney Still an Entertainment Industry Giant.”  N.p., 11 June 2012.  Web.  16 June 2014.  investorplace.com/2012/06/disney-still-an-entertainment-industry-giant-dis-twx-nws/#.U571t_ldVuA.

2.   Lane, Matthew.  “Youth Sports Could Have $10 Million Impact in Model City in 2013.”  Timesnews.net.timesnews.net/article/‌9065811/youth-sports-could-have-10-million-impact-in-model-city-in-2013.

3.   “Brand USA, ESPN in Sports Tourism Promotion.”  travelmole.com/news_feature.php?news_id=2009703.


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