Austin, Texas has long been known for migrating bats. But the city hosted several important LGBTQ tournaments last year, including the Gay Softball World Series which drew an audience of over 5,000 athletes, coaching staff and fans. Austin is a city that’s serious about being more inclusive.
This past December the Austin Sports Commission (austintexas.org) hosted planners from the LGBTQ community led by Connect Sports (connectsports.com). Attendees included representatives from North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance (NAGAAA), National Gay Basketball Association (NGBA), North American Gay and Lesbian Sports Federation (known as GLISA North America), Federation of Gay Games (FGG), International Gay and Lesbian Football Association (IGLFA), International Gay Bowling Organization (IGBO) as well as the Rose City Softball Association (RCSA), Austin Softball Association, HelmsBriscoe (a full service event site selection service) and Compete Magazine, the world’s only LGBTQ sports diversity magazine.
The group met at The Chive headquarters in downtown Austin to discuss challenges that tournament planners face when planning tournaments. Topics included marketing to millennials, coordinating tournament dates among different organizations and involving more organizations in the LGBTQ Sports Coalition. Josh Todd, sports director with Connect Sports led the coalition meeting.
Patrick Higgins, vice president of marketplace for Connect said “we’ll be conducting a sports summit for LGBTQ sporting event organizers in Las Vegas this March and we’ll cover all participation costs for qualified sporting event organizers of LGBTQ sporting events” The event is being held at the Mirage from March 27-29 (connectmeetings.com).
Victor Ocampo of HelmsBriscoe said, “As a first time participant I felt immediately welcomed by the group. I felt the sense of a common goal. I look forward to a continued partnership in our meetings to develop a significance in the LGBTQ Sports space.”
IGLFA’s Kimberly Hadley added that “Austin hosted an enjoyable meeting and experience while showing us the best of the city as LGBT sports organizations and allies gathered to share best practices, discuss challenges and engage support from the community.”
Playing tour director was Lance Aldridge, executive director of the Austin Sports Commission. Tour stops included the Hilton Austin Hotel, JW Marriot Austin, South Congress Hotel, Franklin Barbeque, Austin’s Trail of Lights and a bus tour of Austin and its many impressive hotels and sports facilities.
“The Austin Sports Commission is honored to be a part of Connect Sport’s LGBTQ Sports Coalition. Everything about the Coalition and its initiatives aligns perfectly with the direction of Austin’s citywide leadership. We are excited to be a part of this group as it grows in stature,” Aldridge said.
Aldridge and his team at the Austin Sports Commission are available to assist tournament planners in choosing Austin for their next tournament or event.
By Miriam Latto