Jim Arnold is director of business development at Sports Force Parks in Woodstock, Georgia. As a 2019 Connect Sports Game Changer, he discusses his passion for sports tourism.
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What I do: I work with communities around the country who are interested in creating new sports tourism destinations or enhancing their current facilities. My main focus is finding communities that are a good fit for the Sports Force Parks model and helping facilitate the development of parks that create economic impact, lower public risk and increase local opportunity.
How I got here: After getting my MBA from St. Bonaventure University, I coached Division II soccer at Center College in Kentucky before taking a position with Ripken Baseball. For the next 12 years, I headed up Ripken Design, which oversaw the design, development and operations of Ripken Baseball’s youth sports complexes and Minor League Baseball properties. Five years ago, partnering with SFI Companies, we made the decision to buy out Ripken Design and create Sports Force Parks. The rest is history.
Why I am a Game Changer: Over the past two years, I have overseen the development and operations of the first two Sports Force Parks locations in Sandusky, Ohio, and Vicksburg, Mississippi. During this time, Sports Force Parks at Cedar Point Sports Center (Sandusky) has created more than $60 million in economic impact and generated over 70,000 hotel rooms while Sports Force Parks on the Mississippi (Vicksburg) is on pace to hit $24 million in impact and 25,000 room nights in its inaugural year.
Greatest career accomplishment: Making the decision to start up Sports Force Parks. To see the success of our parks as well as the amazing team we have built in such a short amount of time is truly incredible.
Impressive stats: Throughout my career, I have been directly involved in the development and operations of more than $350 million of the most groundbreaking sports facilities in the country.
What I am working on now: We are partnering with Collier County, Florida, on the development of a new sports complex that will open in 2020 and immediately change the sports industry in the Gulf Coast region. With 20 multipurpose fields located directly on Interstate-75 and minutes from the beaches of the Paradise Coast, the facility will quickly become an international destination.
What I do outside of work: I have an amazing wife as well as a 2-year-old daughter and 1-year-old son. Life if pretty hectic right now outside of work and I am loving every minute of it!