Sunday, May 30, 2010

City agencies spar over sporting events

The Shreveport-Bossier City region will be a major player in Southwestern Athletic Conference events in 2010/11 with the first Port City Classic on Labor Day Weekend featuring Grambling State vs. Louisiana Tech at Independence Stadium; Southern University vs. Prairie View A&M University on October 23 in the inaugural Shreveport Classic, played at Independence Stadium; the men's and women's SWAC basketball tournament; and the SWAC baseball tournament played at Fairgrounds Field in Shreveport.

Nicknamed the Sportsman's Paradise, Louisiana is known for sports. But the most contentious battle is happening off the field between two agencies vying to bring bigger and better sporting events to Shreveport-Bossier City. That competition is attracting attention from local officials and others who say this particular brand of infighting is not good business. The Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau and Shreveport Regional Sports Authority are active members in the area's sports business. And both can stake respective claims to a certain measure of success.

This year, the tourist bureau will spend about $450,000 in sports marketing and assistance. In return, it expects to receive about $300,000 in revenue from events like the Port City Classic (featuring Grambling State University vs. Louisiana Tech University), the Sickle Cell Softball Tournament and USA Weightlifting.

The sports authority, a nonprofit by incorporation that receives city funding, is operating under a $193,890 budget in 2010 but projects it will generate a revenue figure that exceeds $206,000. But numbers alone don't tell the whole story. "We need the tourist bureau out of the sporting event business with the understanding that we have a properly led, properly managed, properly staffed sports authority," Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover said in a recent interview. "Have the bureau take care of the sports conventions. What we're doing right now is not making maximum use of our taxpayers' resources.


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