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Durham considers adding new sports commission

Many students already enjoy going to Durham Bulls games, but a new proposed sports commission could bring even more athletic events to the Bull City.

The Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau, Durham Chamber of Commerce, Duke and North Carolina Central University have been working to form a Durham sports commission, which would try to bring more amateur sporting events and tournaments to Durham. Shelly Green, president of the Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau, noted that the city would see an estimated $2.6 million increase in local tax revenues in the first three years. Other benefits could include recruitment opportunities and internship possibilities for Duke students.

“Durham is already a sports city,” said Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for public affairs and government relations. “What we hope the sports commission would do is elevate the visibility of the city to become a more attractive destination for national sporting events—whether those are things like soccer tournaments or other kinds of things that bring athletes, families and economic activity to the city.”

Green noted that several Durham officials who support the project envision Duke students playing a vital role in the development of the commission.

“We think there’s going to be some opportunities for internships,” Green said. “People interested in sports tourism, the medical side of what goes on with sporting events—they will have some opportunities for participation and getting involved from the sports medicine, sports facilities and event management standpoint.”

The proposed sports commission could help provide Duke coaches recruiting opportunities by hosting events and tournaments, Green explained. She noted that the commission could also provide additional support when the University plays host to ACC and NCAA athletic events.

Local sports teams that are currently being forced to fundraise to travel for competitions outside of Durham would also benefit from the sports commission, Green said.

“If they work with the sports commission on creating some new events, that actually can become an opportunity for them to earn money for their teams, as well as saving money that they didn’t have to spend going outside the community,” she said.

Currently DCVB has oversight regarding local sporting events, but its founding legislation prevents it from sponsoring events. A task force including representatives from Duke was formed to push forward the idea of a sports commission, Green explained.

“Essentially, it’s a collaboration between DCVB, the city and the county for the purpose of creating and hosting amateur sporting events,” Green said, noting that she and the Chamber of Commerce President convened with interested citizens two years ago to begin discussing how to make the sports commission a reality.

In the coming weeks, the task force is presenting to the Joint City-Council Planning Committee to acquire financial support for the project.

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