Kris Smith is director of the Detroit Sports Commission. As a 2017 Connect Sports Game Changer, Smith discusses his passion for sports tourism.
What I do: Listen, provide vision and stay out of the way of a fantastic team.
How I got here: After working as a visitor information specialist in the visitors center, and because of the vision and planning of the executive director, I was given an opportunity with the CVB in the beautiful city of Hampton, Virginia. After a little more than a decade in Virginia, I was presented with an opportunity to be a part of something special here in Detroit.
Why I am a game changer: We recently worked with NASC to create the Propel Scholars program and hosted the Department of Veterans Affairs National Golden Age Games. These are two examples of how our team loves what we do working with our community.
My greatest career accomplishment: I would say it is representing the people in the two wonderful communities that I have served. They deserve every bit of effort we can give.
Impressive stats: Cobo Center will host the USA Volleyball Girls Junior National Championship in 2018, the first time the NGB will host the event in Detroit. The tournament is expected to draw more than 1,200 teams and 25,000 spectators, making an economic impact of at least $55 million. It is a case of the $279 million renovation of Cobo Center paying off for the community.
What I’m working on: We are ecstatic about the opening of Little Caesars Arena and the completion of major renovations to Ford Field. We are also looking forward to hosting NCAA Men’s Basketball first and second Rounds, Horizon League Basketball Championships, several events with Legacy Global Sports, USA Volleyball’s Girls Junior National Championships, MAC Football Championship, Quick Lane Bowl and Great Lakes Invitational—all in 2018.
What I do outside of work: I enjoy volunteering with youth, sitting in a stadium watching a sport live and hanging out with my wife and children.