NAGAAA Organizers Learn Their Worth

By Matt Swenson, January 17, 2019


After the great experience in Columbus, NAGAAA has aligned itself with some of the most respected sports commissions and CVBs in the country. Working with the likes of Monica Paul (Dallas Sports Commission), Jason Aughey (Tampa Bay Sports Commission) and Cathy Kretz (Travel Portland) has paid off.

For instance, Paul informed Balton NAGAAA qualified for local grant money when the World Series was held in Dallas in 2014. She walked the group through the process, which resulted in additional resources to bolster the event.

“We are able to do a lot more marketing and bring more awareness that we are in a city,” Kelly says of the grant money. “It helps us increase simple things like cooling tents for players.”

In Tampa, NAGAAA found a similar opportunity. Kelly says that it is not a prerequisite for host destinations to have grant money, but NAGAAA at least knows that is an option. “If we know the money is there to qualify for it, we reach out and get it.”

As they’re learned more, Balton and Kelly have learned what to negotiate for, including hotel rebates. Each additional team added to the World Series means thousands of dollars in hotel bookings, dining out and shopping—money that goes back into the community hosting them.

“We’ve learned we are a valued commodity, and we did not know that,” Balton says.

Above and Beyond

More than anything, NAGAAA’s biggest takeaway from its run of success is to ask for help—to not do things the hard way.

“You feel like you don’t want to ask for too much you don’t want to take advantage,” says Kelly. “But every time you call a sports commission, they say, ‘We are here for you,’ and they honestly mean it.”

That assistance can take on many forms.

Lance Aldridge, then executive director of the Austin Sports Commission, was on speed dial desperate to help in 2016 when the Texas Capital received 13.5 inches of rain the week NAGAAA was in town.

“We bought every bag of quick dry in Austin and San Antonio and went to Houston to get more,” Balton recalls. Workers and equipment were in short supply. But a message from Aldridge brought out 200 people to help sand and rake fields so the games could go in.

In Tampa last year, the championship venue was rained out. But, the Tampa Bay Sports Commission found a new field within 12 hours and helped line up the logistics. The event was still a home run. “We never would have got that done, even to the point of beer permits in that park, without the commission,” Balton says.

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