Though Columbus turned down a chance to host the Olympics, the city might soon be a contender for holding other big-time sporting events.
The Greater Columbus Sports Commission announced at the end of October it will be hosting the Association of Chief Executives for Sports’ biennial meeting in June — a meeting in which Columbus will be showcased to representatives of sports groups as an attempt to attract national events, teams, athletes and fans.
Stephen Ducoff is the CEO of ACES, which is a trade association based in Colorado comprised of executive directors from all 46 U.S. Olympic Committee National Governing Bodies, including sports like gymnastics, wrestling, track and field and cycling.
“Starting about three or four years ago, we became very popular, if you will, in that cities see us as an opportunity to showcase their facilities, their staff, their ability to host events and meetings as well in those cities,” Ducoff said.
Ducoff said Linda Logan, the executive director for the Greater Columbus Sports Commission, has been asking ACES to come to Columbus for years.
He said the city has a lot of appealing features that make it eligible to host major sporting events.
“The city was presented well … the downtown area is doing well it appears, the host hotels appear to be great, the convention center is fine,” Ducoff said. “One of ACES’ sponsors is Nationwide Insurance, so we’re excited to come to Columbus because that’s their headquarters and we’re excited to be able to do something in conjunction with them.”
The Greater Columbus Sports Commission was created in 2002 to “attract professional, collegiate, amateur and youth sporting events to Greater Columbus,” according to the organization’s website.
The association has enjoyed recent success, with the NHL announcing Saturday that its 2015 All-Star Game will be held in Columbus that January. The commission has also announced that the USA Fencing national championships will be held in Columbus in 2014. Columbus has also been named as a finalist to potentially host eight NCAA championship events from 2014-18.
Columbus, however, has denied opportunities to host large-scale sporting events in the past. The city was asked in February, along with 34 others, by the U.S. Olympic Committee to consider making a bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics.
In April, Mayor Michael Coleman’s office confirmed Columbus was not going to make a bid.
“The City of Columbus is not pursuing the 2024 Olympic Games for a number of reasons, including the enormous cost that would be required to simply submit a bid,” said Daniel Williamson, Coleman’s communications director, in an email. “In addition, the mayor is not sure the additional demands required of a city and its residents hosting the Olympics Games would be worth the honor. Mayor Coleman is interested in other conventions and other attractions that he believes would make more sense for Columbus.”
Shana Pramik, a second-year in forestry, fisheries and wildlife at Ohio State, said there are benefits to Columbus hosting major sporting events though.
“I would definitely attend (major sporting events) if they were held in Columbus,” Pramik said. “It would bring a lot of business and more attention to the city and it would have the potential to put Columbus on the map.”
Michael Penner, the OSU senior associate athletics director for internal operations, said OSU is willing to help support these organizations and the Columbus community.
“We are proud to partner with the Columbus Sports Commission whenever we can to help provide the Columbus community with the opportunity to see first class athletes and high level events,” Penner said in an email. “These events introduce current and future Olympians in many sports to the general public.”
Christopher Braun contributed to this article.