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May 9, 2019

Meet Tampa Bay Sports Commission & EDI

Have you ever wondered how big events like the recent NCAA Women’s Final Four come to our backyard? That’s where the Tampa Bay Sports Commission and the Event Development Institute come in. Their partnership strives to put the Tampa Bay area on the map as a destination beyond our beautiful beaches and a key way they do that is by bringing major events to town.

The Tampa Bay Sports Commission leads the charge on bidding on and hosting major sporting events in our community, but soon realized it wasn’t just sporting events that could be brought to life in the Tampa Bay area. And so, the Event Development Institute (EDI), a division of the Tampa Bay Sports Commission, was created to focus on events that are non-sport-related or are outside of Hillsborough County.

Together, they’re doing a great job as we’ve already seen major events this year like the PGA’s 2019 Valspar Championship in addition to the 2019 NCAA Women’s Final Four. In recent years the Tampa Bay area has also hosted the College Football Playoff National Championship and the NHL All-Star Game.

Hosting these major events not only drives economic growth year-round and provides an opportunity to showcase our vibrant community to visitors, but it also creates mutually beneficial relationships with the community.

“We’re driving visitors to our community; they’re spending their money and so we see a direct economic impact as a result of these major sporting events. But the other thing that comes out of hosting these events is the social impact and the legacy impact,” said Claire Lessinger, the director of special events at the Tampa Bay Sports Commission.

Jenna Grooms, EDI manager, echoed Lessinger saying, “If our local businesses are investing in our community, it’s really just going to give back to those businesses in the long term.”

The local investment is ultimately driving business back into our community through word of mouth. Long after an event is over, the athletes and fans have gone home, and they’re telling the story of their great trip to Tampa Bay to all of their friends.

For an idea of how these events are giving back to our community in more than just economics, look no further than the NCAA Women’s Final Four this year. Accompanying the Final Four was a unique program designed to leave a lasting impact on the students of Tampa Bay. The NCAA Women’s Basketball and Tampa Bay Sports Commission partnered with Hillsborough County Public Schools (HCPS) to engage, inspire and incentivize elementary students’ love of reading through Read to the Final Four.

Read to the Final Four featured a series of two-week challenges that culminated in a month-long March Madness Challenge for third graders. The top “Final Four” schools from each of the HCPS areas won a field trip to Tourney Town and were recognized in a special award ceremony. Through the program, HCPS elementary school students read over 2.6 million minutes on myON!

Executive Director of the Tampa Bay Sports Commission, Rob Higgins, sums up the relationship of the Tampa Bay Sports Commission, EDI and the Tampa Bay community perfectly, “Together we bring event ideas to life and create memories for visitors that will last a lifetime.”


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