In an economic climate that is forcing people in intercollegiate athletics to become more creative, the Colonial Athletic Association looked for – and found – a different funding source to promote several of its 2009 championships. The conference received a grant from the Virginia Tourism Corporation that will be spent promoting the seven CAA championships in Virginia this year.
The one-time, $25,000-grant was really the result of coincidence and good fortune, said CAA Senior Associate Commissioner for Marketing Robert Goodman. The tourism group was sponsoring a grant program designed to stimulate new tourism marketing initiatives through its “Live Passionately” campaign. With the CAA holding seven championships in the state this year, Goodman thought the two would be a perfect fit – and the Virginia Tourism Corporation agreed.
“We were very, very excited,” he said. “What we’re going to use these funds for is to highlight these great championships, to advertise to the fans, the alumni and the Virginia communities. We can better leverage our partnership with Comcast Sports Net to promote these championships up and down the East Coast.”
Much of the time, the CAA championships are held at the site of the highest seed, but this year, seven championships were at predetermined sites in Virginia. The CAA grant application noted the number of people – not just student-athletes and coaches, but cheerleaders, pep bands, administrators, alumni and fans – that championship events bring to host cities.
This year, men’s and women’s swimming and diving (February 25-28, Fairfax, Virginia), men’s (March 6-9, Richmond) and women’s (March 12-13, Harrisonburg, Virginia) basketball, wrestling (March 6-7, Chesapeake, Virginia) and men’s and women’s tennis (April 16-19, Norfolk, Virginia) are all at different sites in the state. The conference called its program “Live Passionately Through College Sports in Virginia.”
Bringing more fans to each of the events through the grant funding will improve the game atmosphere for participants and fans alike, Goodman said.
“When you have more fans in the stands cheering everybody on, it definitely increases the student-athlete experience,” he said.
While this particular grant was a one-time shot, Goodman said the conference isn’t opposed to trying again, depending on the pre-set locations for its championships. The CAA men’s basketball title, for example, will be decided in Richmond for the next three years.
© 2010 The National Collegiate Athletic Association