A good sport

In just five short years, Gilbert, executive director of the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, has turned bringing sporting events to Cleveland into a major contributing factor in boosting the regions’ economic development. He’s done it by following the tenet that you have to be a partner of the event rather than simply a host.

Since 1999, Gilbert’s efforts have secured more than 50 events for Cleveland, including the NCAA Women’s Final Four, Gravity Games, U.S. Gymnastics Championships, McDonald’s All-American High School Basketball Game and U.S. Olympic Trials Box-Offs. All told, these events represent an economic impact of more than $160 million for Cleveland’s economy.

During the summer of 2004, under Gilbert’s leadership, the Sports Commission executed its largest and most successful event —the International Children’s Games. The games brought more than 3,000 international visitors to Cleveland for four days of sporting competitions, an outdoor festival and a host of other activities.

And, Gilbert energized the corporate community, recruiting former Cleveland Clinic Foundation CEO Dr. Floyd Loop and The Plain Dealer Publisher Alex Machaskee to co-chair the event and build community support.

“There are a number of events that we do that really go far beyond the sports, that have another hook with it that digs deep into other segments of the community,” says Gilbert. “The key to their success is how you engage the right elements of the community. The upfront planning of putting together the right team is crucial. Having Dr. Loop and Alex at the helm of this was the key to success. It takes nothing away from how great the staff was, but the chairs put together the right committees, and it all flowed from there.”

How to reach: www.clevelandsports.org or (216) 621-0600.