Originally created 10/10/05

Sports Council, Columbia County make new deal



In sports terms, just think of Columbia County as an emerging athlete and the Greater Augusta Sports Council as one of its agents.

In a nutshell, that's the partnership that will continue now that an annual agreement has again been struck between the county and the council.

This year, that agreement will award more funding from Columbia County to the sports council, which will use the money to promote the county's sports offerings and to attract new business.

"It's an annual marketing agreement,'' said Tammy Stout, the executive director of the sports council. "It basically states we will market the Columbia County venues and that we will assist them in identifying sports business that is a good match for the county.''

The new agreement, approved by county commissioners Tuesday, will increase county funding to the sports council for the next fiscal year from $5,000 to $30,000, said Barry Smith, the county's community and leisure services director.

"We decided to increase the amount of funding to the sports council because we had a good track record of success with them,'' Mr. Smith said, adding that the sports council has been instrumental in attracting things to the county such as bass fishing tournaments, the National Disc Golf Association and a national archery competition.

Also on Tuesday, commissioners approved a move for the county to officially start its own convention and visitors bureau.

As part of that agreement, Columbia County will not send funding to the Augusta Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau this year for promotion purposes, instead keeping 40 percent of its hotel and motel tax, about $176,000, inside the county for its own visitors bureau to use for promotional purposes, Mr. Smith said.

As part of the county's latest agreement with the sports council, Ms. Stout said, her organization will focus on three key Columbia County issues in the coming year: disc golf, cross country and angling events.

Still, she said her office's promotional efforts will include other venues, adding that Columbia County's sports opportunities are only growing.

"Without a doubt, their offerings are increasing as new venues come on line and current parks are enhanced or updated," she said.

"There's no doubt that recreation is a niche for the county.''

Ms. Stout said she feels her organization has done a good job for the county in the past, and the increasing promotion is indicative of its growth.

"I think it's a natural evolution of a growing county,'' she said. "The county is much younger than Augusta, Richmond County. They're going through the phases now of all these new venues that Augusta went through 20 years ago.''

And when it comes to the sports council continuing to keep good relations with Columbia County, Ms. Stout said she thinks she knows why.

"We're not a government arm, and I think that has allowed us to maybe operate a little more efficiently at times,'' she said. "Fortunately, we've always had great relations with Columbia County.''

Reach Preston Sparks at 868-1222, ext. 115 or preston.sparks@augustachronicle.com.

WHAT'S NEXT

The Greater Augusta Sports Council will continue to promote Columbia County's sports offerings, this year focusing on three main venues: disc golf, cross country and angling events.