Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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County Sports Development Part II: Inventing a Sports Commission – Ignoring the Plan

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – As reported in Part I, on March 26, 2017, Huddle Up Group submitted its final report to Columbia County: a $29,000 FL Department of Economic Opportunity funded Sports Tourism/Marketing Strategic Plan ("Plan"). Huddle Up Group is one of the nation's premier sports marketers. Huddle Up reported, "There is an opportunity to continue to expand the sports tourism work of the Columbia County Sports Commission (“CCSC”)." The Sports Commission is mentioned extensively throughout the Plan. Columbia County does not have a Sports Commission.

This morning your reporter asked a few people in County Hdq. if they had heard of the Columbia County Sports Commission. No one had.

This afternoon, your reporter asked TDC Director Paula Vann what the Sports Commission was and who was on it.

Ms. Vann said, "No one is on it. The Columbia County Sports Commission is a marketing tool. It's a brand. It's worked and it's catchy."

After your reporter mentioned that is just a logo Ms. Vann said, "I guess you could call it that, but there is more to it than that."

Huddle Up Believed "there is more to it than that."

There was no question that Huddle Up thought the Sports Commission was an official organization of Columbia County. This is the cover of their report.                    Download the Plan

At the conclusion of its SWOT analysis (SWOT: strengths; weakness, opportunities, threats) Huddle up wrote, " The perception must be that the Columbia County TDC and Sports Commission is leading a sports tourism and marketing effort that is inclusive of all stakeholders in the region, and is enriching all of Columbia County in a meaningful way."

Historically, Columbia County is legendary for not including all stakeholders. The confusion of Huddle Up regarding the non-existent Sports Commission speaks to that.

Huddle Up found that the "current sports advisory group, although loosely defined, could be a valuable asset long-term for the CCSC. That group was the County's Sports Advisory Council.

Ten days before the final strategic plan was delivered, Commissioner Sylvester "Bucky" Nash moved to abolish the Sports Advisory Council, and have it replaced by a group of county staff members appointed by the County Manager. The Sports Advisory Council was disappeared.

Huddle Up's Recommendation for Multi-Use Fields

Huddle Up recommended the expansion of multi-use flat field facilities.

It also recommended "a study by the Sports Commission of the economic impact of a new multi-sport flat field complex in Columbia County." The estimated cost of the study was $15,000 to $20,000 dollars.

Huddle Up Concluded

Huddle Up concluded that the CCSC needed to focus its efforts on three objectives: 1) create a culture of sports tourism development; 2) improve the existing facilities; 3) Once the first two items were achieved, explore the addition of multi-use outdoor venues, then indoor.


As will be seen in Part III, it is not clear if anyone in the County read the Strategic Plan, as the County moved to put the cart before the horse in a secret land deal to build multi-use fields before any studies or analysis were done.

Part III: Columbia Cnty's property purchasing scheme - Putting the cart before the horse

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