Organizations: Atlanta Sports Council
What It Is: A division of the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce that works to bring sporting events to the Metro Atlanta area.
Who’s In Charge: Gary Stokan, president, just completed his 10th year at the helm. His mission, he says, is to make Atlanta the “Sports Capital of the World.”
Accomplishments: Most recently, nabbing the 2013 NCAA Final Four basketball tournament, which coincides with the NCAA’s 75th anniversary. Stokan says to expect a yearlong celebration, beginning in 2012 with a regional tournament.
In the decade since he took the reins, the city has hosted a Super Bowl, a PGA Championship, NBA, NHL and MLB All Star Games, college basketball tournaments galore (including men’s and women’s NCAA Final Fours), the U.S. Women’s Figure Skating Championships and annual college football showdowns including the SEC Championship game and the Chick-fil-A Bowl – which this year pitted the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets against the LSU Tigers. Having a hometown favorite on the bill no doubt helped the bowl record its 12th straight annual sellout – only the Rose and Fiesta Bowls have longer running sellout streaks, notes Stokan who is also the bowl’s president. At press time, Stokan said, negotiations were under way with Chick-fil-A to extend the chain’s sponsorship of the College Kickoff football game for at least four more seasons.
Numbers Talk: Stokan partnered with McKinsey & Co. and Georgia State economics professor Bruce Seaman to develop a means to measure the financial benefit of these major sporting events on the local and state economy.
According to the Atlanta Sports Council Economic Impact Formula, the combined economic effects of the past decade’s worth of events tops $1.3 billion. The Chick-fil-A Bowl alone, which took place Dec. 31, was expected to generate close to $35 million. “That’s a nice hit in December,” Stokan notes, a time when holiday visitors usually stay with family, not in downtown hotels.
Looking Ahead: Stokan’s next move is to create events that the ASC will own and operate. The Horizon Awards for Sports Business will afford national recognition; Race-town Atlanta will be a family-friendly NASCAR festival and the Atlanta Sports Awards will host an annual black-tie gala recognizing local athletic standouts.