Friday, January 27, 2012

Sports Fuel Northern Nevada Economics

On Wednesday, January 25, I attended a breakfast meeting on Sports Economics hosted by the Northern Nevada Development Authority. Held at the Governor's Mansion in Carson City, guests packed the "Nevada Room" to hear five speakers discuss the economic impact of their respective pursuits on the Northern Nevada community.

In order, the speakers were Lt. Governor Brian Krolicki and Jon Killoran, who discussed the Reno Tahoe Winter Games Coalition; Mike Samuels, who covered the Nevada Wolf Pack's eventual move to the Mountain West Conference; Michael Reynolds, who talked about the locally owned Reno Bighorns basketball team; John Kinkella, who gave an overview of Western Nevada College athletics; and, finally, Lisa Granahan, who gave a rundown of Ascent Douglas County.

Krolicki, Killoran, and the rest of RTWGC organization have been working hard to land a bid from the U.S. Olympic Committee to host the 2022 Olympic Winter Games. Next summer (2013), the International Olympic Committee will call for bids from around the world. About a year after that (2014), the U.S. Olympic Committee will decide whether to bid at all, and, if it does, which city or region gets the bid. In July 2015, the International Olympic Committee will make the ultimate decision from a pool of cities and regions around the world.

In the video below, Krolicki elaborates on the timeline and the general excitement surrounding the possibility of the Reno-Lake Tahoe region hosting the '22 Winter Games.

For more information, including background on the 1960 Olympic Winter Games held at Squaw Valley, read this Nevada Magazine story titled "Then and If." Blogger Tiffany Brown does a great job of covering the RTWGC's marketing effort in this article. Finally, Killoran discusses more marketing logistics in this Reno-Tahoe American Marketing Association video.

Reynolds focused on the positives that a conference realignment will have on the University of Nevada, Reno. On July 1, 2012, the Nevada Wolf Pack will move from the Western Athletic Conference to the Mountain West Conference. Reynolds said the university is intent on "raising the bar" athletically, which will have a residual affect on the community and school. He added that the move will lead to building infrastructure and the creation of jobs.

The Reno Bighorns are a member of the NBA Development League, which was founded in 2001 with the goal of being the "minor league" of the NBA, similar to professional baseball's minor-league system. The Bighorns were founded in 2008 and are coming off a successful season, in which the team won the regular-season Western Conference championship and won a playoff series. A local ownership group recently purchased the franchise and have made that bond to the community a primary part of their marketing efforts.

Kinkella talked about how the intercollegiate athletics program was started at Western Nevada College in order to provide a model group to use as a positive example for the rest of the students. Mission accomplished: WNC is the only program in its conference to claim an Academic Team of the Year, which it's done seven times. This has led to successful scholarships and transfers for many athletes. The Wildcats baseball team has been to the NJCAA World Series twice in the past four years.

Granahan cited the successful local outdoor recreation and lifestyle industries, even in the recent economic downturn. Companies such as Aviso American Made, Bently Biofuels, and North Sails are leading this charge. The Ascent Douglas initiative is about targeting these types of industries, hopefully creating 700 jobs in Douglas County by 2022 — the same year we as a region will hopefully be hosting the Olympic Winter Games.—Matthew B. Brown, Nevada Magazine editor

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