Six tips for good sportsmanship between planners and sports facilities.
First time at the ballpark? You’re not alone. Most planners, while meticulous at searching and selecting the perfect hotels for their meetings, have little or no experience in dealing with sports venues. And rest assured that there are as many types to choose from as there were hotels that received your last RFP; and just like those hotels, venues hosting sporting events come in all different shapes and sizes. So, if you’re new to this ‘playing field’ (excuse the pun - we just couldn’t resist), here’s a primer of tips to get you started:
2. Insurance and liability are critical and can be costly issues. You may have gotten approval for your dates and negotiated a decent price, but don’t open the champagne bottles yet. Sometimes the deal killers can be the requested values of insurance riders. Lesson learned? People who don’t usually play a lot of sports tend to suffer more injuries!
3. In most facilities, everything is priced a la carte. Extra costs that can add significant pricing to your total package include security, clean up, use of house sound systems, field lights, the need for EMT’s standing by (trust us on this one) and so much more. Also make sure you know exactly what areas you have the right to use in your pricing structure, i.e. does it include bathroom facilities? Locker rooms? Parking lots? Again, this might sound ridiculous until you pull up with your busses full of people who have no access to bathrooms or have bathrooms with no toilet paper.
4. Print no signage before it’s time. Just imagine arriving at your venue with a big sign saying “Pepsi® is Proud to Sponsor Us!” and being unable to hang the darn thing because it’s a Coke® stadium? Most of these venues have official partners and you must be aware of them and respect their in house rules. Same goes for the venue logo - ask permission first. And finally regarding signage, when you do print anything, SIZE MATTERS - PRINT LARGE AND WIDE!
5. Hire a professional emcee to work the loudspeaker system. In larger stadiums or venues this might be necessary for introductions, on field play by play, music, etc. For help in finding a good sportscaster/host, ask the venue for a list of their freelancers, contact local TV/radio personalities or possibly even go to a local high school or college that has a broadcast program. Please, for everyone’s sake, do not use your company’s CEO for this job even if he believes he’s as good as anchorman Ron Burgundy.
6. REPEAT AFTER READING THIS: Thou shalt not take any venue storage space for granted AND always carefully review the parking options. Just like in hotels, storage space is at a premium and almost always fully locked. Assume you will have no access to it unless you’ve made arrangements for same, preferably in writing. Regarding parking, well, this can be a whole other matter so be forewarned and carefully review the options. Arrivals, departures, handicapped parking, busses, truck drops - these can all be challenging and might even require the assistance of paid parking attendants.
In the end, you need to treat contracting a sports venue no different than dealing with hotel facilities. Cover all details in writing, but even things that you’ve never had to think of before like pre-programmed automatic sprinklers that may come on during your event and take an act of God (or hard to find stadium manager with the one and only key) to turn off, access to concession stands as well as the coveted ice makers that are almost always locked up inside same, hiring grounds crews, bathroom attendants, and the list goes on. Ultimately you will be putting an event resume together for this just like you would for any function you hold in the hotel, so use the same logic and planning that have already proven you to be the smart planner that you are!