Last week, we achieved the highest honor possible from the National Association of Sports Commissions. Sports Minneapolis was named national “Sports Commission of the Year.” To understand how gratifying this recognition is, we need to take a step back in time to 2014.
In our region’s sports history, 2014 was a big year. Target Field celebrated its 5th anniversary by hosting the Major League Baseball All Star Game. We bid on and secured both Super Bowl LII and the 2019 Final Four. Both the NFL and the NCAA placed their confidence in the region for their marquee events, even though U.S. Bank Stadium was under construction and not yet completed. The USA Volleyball Girls’ Junior National Championships were held in 2014 at the Minneapolis Convention Center and attracted a total of nearly 30,000 athletes and 20,000 spectators.
We also bid on the college football Playoff (CFP) in 2014, and while we didn’t succeed in winning the bid for our chosen year, 2020, CFP is back on our radar in a big way.
Something else big happened in 2014. Sports Minneapolis was formed to focus and concentrate resources on a segment of events that more than doubled its impact from 2015 to 2018. Sports Minneapolis has grown to four, full time team members and several shared team members with Meet Minneapolis. The Sports Minneapolis Advisory Board comprises key partners from our professional sports teams, the University of Minnesota, media, corporate community and others.
This investment of resources and collaboration with our many community partners is paying off. Last week as Sports Minneapolis was named the national “Sports Commission of the Year” by the National Association of Sports Commissions (NASC) at its annual symposium in Knoxville, TN. This honor is bestowed upon the “organization that has demonstrated exceptional impact on its community through sports and visitor spending during the previous calendar year.” In recognizing the regional nature of Sports Minneapolis’ work to bid on, secure and support sports events throughout the metro area. This award category represents markets with a population size of 500,000 and greater.
Our nomination for this award highlighted a remarkable year in 2018, which included Super Bowl LII, the WNBA All-Star Game and NCAA DI Volleyball Championship. The nomination also focused on the work it took to secure another premier NCAA championship event – the 2022 NCAA Women’s Final Four. That was a bid Sports Minneapolis presented along with the University of Minnesota and Target Center. Sports Minneapolis will serve as the local organizing committee for the women’s championship event.
The University of Minnesota’s strong standing within the NCAA, and its long history of serving as the host institution for NCAA events, makes it possible for us to be considered for these events. “We are very happy for Sports Minneapolis and this well-deserved recognition," University of Minnesota senior associate athletics director and Sports Minneapolis Advisory Board member, Tom McGinnis said. "They have been a strong partner as we have worked to bring the NCAA’s most premier events in college athletics to our community. We look forward to continuing our collaboration with them to provide remarkable experiences not only for the teams and fans we welcome, but for everyone in our community."
While Sports Minneapolis was the entity named for this honor, we proudly congratulate all of our partners from our counterpart destination marketing organizations in the region, professional and amateur sports, our venues, our corporate community and the hospitality industry at large for their ongoing support and encouragement. Together, we will continue to collectively work toward our goal of becoming the sports destination of choice.