TEAMS Conference & Expo Shines Spotlight on Detroit

October 4, 2012

If your job was to find out where 18 beach volleyball tournaments could be held throughout the United States and you wanted to discover some new locations to try out, then TEAMS Conference & Expo was the place to be this week at Detroit’s Cobo Center.

“I am here to network and find other places to go around the country,” said Max Bednarski, a T.V. producer for the EVP Beach Volleyball Tour.

He added, “It’s the largest beach volleyball tour in the U.S. I am looking for places we hadn’t thought of before.”

Pete Isais, director of national events for USA Wrestling, also has a tall task at hand with 50 events he needs to find locations for every year.

“I’m at the show to connect with different CVBs and sports commissions for regional and national sites to hold the events,” Isais said.

He added, “Typically, we book about half of those events through connections made at shows like these.”

There were plenty of destinations represented on the 130,000 square foot showfloor, with CVBs from smaller towns such as Norman, Okla., and big cities like Los Angeles, as well as sporting commissions and other companies catering to sporting event producers.

Bill Brown, senior account manager for Salt Lake City-based Vision Graphics, which produces large-format graphics for sporting events, said his company is a sponsor at TEAMS and has exhibited on the showfloor for the past 10 years.

“There are so many event holders that need graphics for their events across the country,” Brown said. “We’ve had some good meetings here.”

Connecting buyers and sellers is what Schneider Publishing’s TEAMS Conference & Expo is all about, according to Lisa Furfine, the show’s manager.

To that end, this year’s show featured even more opportunities for business to get done, such as changing the educational format so that buyers and sellers would be in the same sessions, but topics were still relatable to each, as well as adding another one-on-one appointment component at the end of the conference.

“Every component of the show is about bringing buyers and sellers together for business development,” Furfine said.

Even though this year’s show had a slight attendance dip, from 1,406 in Las Vegas in 2011 to 1,260 this year, Furfine said the showfloor, with 300 exhibitors, has grown to six times its original from when the show launched in 1999.

“We’ve also had 160 first-time attendees,” she added, “For us, that’s a strong indicator that the market sector is still growing.”

And, with an economic impact last year of $7,448,268 (including booked events), the show obviously has tremendous value to the city in which it’s held.

“The reason we selected Detroit is because it’s such a great sports destination,” Furfine said. “I don’t think anyone would argue … there has been a struggle here, but it’s remarkable this city has four professional sports teams.”

The city showed off a lot of what it had to offer the sporting events industry with an opening party at two of Detroit’s state-of-the-art venues - Ford Field and Comerica Park – tours of Joe Louis Arena during the five-day event and a closing party at the Motor City Casino, besides holding the actual show in the Cobo Center, which is undergoing a $221 million renovation project.

“This obviously is a very important show for us,” said Thom Connors, regional vice president for SMG, which manages the center.  

TEAMS previously had been held at four other SMG venues - New Orleans, Houston, Pittsburgh and Fort Lauderdale.

“We built a strong relationship with the show, and they were looking for 2012,” Connors said. “I had just arrived, and we jumped at it. This is a fantastic sports town.”

Dave Beachnau, executive director of the Detroit Sports Commission, said TEAMS was an opportunity to “generate face-to-face interaction to show off the assets and (demonstrate) that we can stage a great sporting event.”

He added that he hoped the show also helped change people’s possibly negative impressions of Detroit from what they may have heard about it before visiting the city firsthand.

Furfine was confident that anyone who attended TEAMS in Detroit definitely would have not only had a fun time, but made valuable business connections.

“It’s an intersection of sports and hospitality," she added. "If you’re not having fun here, you’re not having fun anywhere.”

In fact, the industry is worth $200 billion to the travel industry each year, Furfine said, adding 27 percent of all trips taken annually are for the purpose of attending an organized sporting event.

On the last day of TEAMS show management announced next year’s show will head to Salt Lake City.

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