published Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

President of Sports & Events Committee keeps Chattanooga in the game

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    Staff photo Scott Smith, president of the Greater Chattanooga Sports and Events Committee
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Scott Smith

As president of the Greater Chattanooga Sports and Events Committee, it's Scott Smith's job to bring sporting events to the Scenic City.

In a given year, he said, there are some 50 sporting events that boost the local economy. Getting them here involves bids and presentations to various committees, fundraising and promotions. Once a bid is accepted, his organization is in charge of managing the event from start to finish.

Even with the loss of the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision game to Frisco, Texas -- a turn of events announced last week -- Mr. Smith said Chattanooga is still poised for a solid year of sports events in 2010.

Q: You became president of the committee in April 2009. What was your previous position?

A: I've worked here since June of 1997. First I was director of communications, then director of operations, then vice president. Actually, I was first an intern while at UTC.

Q: How many events does the Greater Chattanooga Sports & Events Committee oversee annually?

A: In a given year, probably well over 50, but definitely at varying degrees. The number of events that we completely oversee and work every minute of varies from year to year but is normally around five.

Q: With so much competition from other cities, what does it take to bring events to Chattanooga?

A: About the same as other cities -- great venues, financial guarantees, etc. But what allows us to get and, more importantly, keep some of these events are our family-friendly attractions, the ease of getting around, location and Southern hospitality.

Q: What do you hear from other cities about the sporting venues Chattanooga has to offer?

A: You don't hear much from other cities, but when we do it is usually about what amazing facilities we have for a city our size, which is so true with the Champions Club, Frost Stadium, The Summit and many others.

Q: Last year, your committee brought in a record $25.1 million through sporting events held in town. Can you do that again this year, especially with the loss of the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision.

A: Without the NCAA game, it isn't likely. But we are hosting two large National Softball Association events as well as an Amateur Softball Association event, along with all the other events, so it should be another really good year but probably not a record year.

Q: How is the money used? Is any given to any local sporting organizations?

A: To be honest, there usually isn't much money made from sporting events. The national organizations are asking for so much more now, and we try to do little extras to make them want to return. On the occasion we do make money, it goes back into our budget since we are a small nonprofit. On occasion, if the room nights and estimated economic impact warrant, we are able to help local groups bring in events that bring visitors, but money never goes to assist local organizations with local events. Everything we do is visitor-driven.

Q: Which events do you think will bring the most people to town this year?

A: Athletic Championships cheerleading (held in January), NSA Girls Fastpitch B World Series and 18-Under Class A and B Series (July), and Head of the Hooch rowing regatta (November).

Name: Martin Scott Smith.

Age: 37.

Education: BS from UTC and master's degree from UTK (both concentrations in sports administration).

Family: Married nine years to wife, Susie. Children: Atticus, 5, and twins Holden and Sawyer, 2. "Atticus is named for 'To Kill a Mockingbird.' Holden is named for 'The Catcher in the Rye,' and Sawyer is named for Tom Sawyer, says my wife, but I say for the TV show 'Lost.' "

Favorite sport: Football.

Favorite teams: Atlanta Braves, Tennessee Volunteers, UTC Mocs, but my favorite is probably the Atlanta Falcons.

Last sporting event attended: Took my boys to a UTC basketball game.

Favorite book: "To Kill a Mockingbird."

Favorite movie: "Field of Dreams."

Favorite TV show: "Lost."

Favorite band: "Counting Crows.

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