R. Ron Sertz is chairman of PA Sports and an executive consultant at Erie Sports Commission in Erie, Pennsylvania. As a 2019 Connect Sports Game Changer, he discusses his passion for sports tourism.
What I do: As chairman of PA Sports, I’m responsible for organizing and directing the efforts of the state association of 13 organizational members charged with the responsibility of marketing and attracting sports events to the Commonwealth. As a consultant for Erie Sports, I serve as an advisor and contributor to the organization I founded and guided prior to my stepping down as executive director in 2018.
How I got here: I was first elected as Chairman of PA Sports in 2016 and re-elected in 2018 based on my lengthy experience in sports and management. I’ve been fortunate to have been in the sports world for more than 50 years and held positions including an athletic director, owner of a team in the Ontario Hockey League, and founding president of an NBA G-League team prior to starting the Erie Sports Commission. I was also founder and, for 25 years, the director of the McDonald’s Classic, called the best four-team high school tournament in the nation.
Why I am a Game Changer: Since taking over as chair of PA Sports, I’ve been lucky to work with the talented members to restructure the workings of the organization and lead the charge to acquire increased funding from the state. The additional state funding has allowed us to ramp up marketing efforts and also complete a study on the economic impact of sporting events in Pennsylvania. In Erie I founded the Sports Commission and in seven years guided the organization from hosting nine events the first year to almost 60 when I stepped down.
Greatest career accomplishment: I’m most proud to have been the founder or inaugural leader in four major sports organizations/events in Erie: The McDonald’s Classic, The Erie Otters Hockey Team of the OHL, The NBA’s Erie BayHawks and the Erie Sports Commission.
Impressive stats: As executive director of the Erie Sports Commission, we increased the number of events by more than 600% during my tenure, and as Chairman of PA Sports we created a partnership with the State Tourism Department to fund our promotional and marketing activities and just saw a 100-percent increase in that support.