Columbia officials researching possibilities for future sports authority

Columbia Parks and Recreation and Convention and Visitor’s Bureau teamed up to discuss the possible creation of a sports authority.

A new sports authority may be in Columbia's future.

Columbia Parks and Recreation and Convention and Visitor’s Bureau teamed up to talk about this possibility and research options.

Currently, Columbia hosts hundreds of sporting events a year, according to CVB's Web and Communications Manager Megan McConachie.

“There is such a variety," McConachie said. "There’s collegiate athletics and also local amateur athletics, which a lot of that is run through Parks and Recreation, and also private amateur athletics."

Parks and Recreation and the CVB have yet to decide what and who this sports authority would be responsible for, if it is created.

"They could do any number of things and right now. Because there is no organization yet, there’s no direction we can actually speak to,” McConachie said.

The two organizations are currently researching a variety of current sports authorities located in other cities similar to Columbia.

“Right now, we are looking at every place possible,” CVB Director Amy Schneider said.

Research gathered from these cities will include what the sports authorities are responsible for, who is involved and how it will be funded.

“It definitely differs by city,” McConachie said. “Some of them are part of city government, some of them are completely privately funded and some of them just grow out of having multiple sporting facilities in town.”

These places include Springfield, Mo., and its sports commission. The commission, started in 1999, was created to promote the economy by organizing and helping to create new sporting events around the area.

On a larger scale, the Kansas City Sports Commission and St. Louis Sports Commission promote sporting events in the cities and even sponsor annual events. They are both privately funded and non-profit.

“Sports are a driving force on economy, and anything that we do, whether or not we do a sports authority, we will do in the best interest of Columbia,” Schneider said.

The city’s plans are still in the early stages of discussion, and will be discussed further in the fall.

“Right now, it’s slated to be explored this fall, so really nothing is happening right now as far as the project goes," McConachie said. "It’s just a little bit of research here and there."

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