David Gilbert’s passion for Cleveland and for sports resulted in the re-establishment of the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission in 2000. However, success did not happen overnight.
It was a challenging time for Gilbert, the commission’s president and CEO, to enter the nonprofit arena. Gilbert was entering a regional climate saturated with nonprofit organizations, all vying for funding in economically adverse conditions. However, despite obstacles, Gilbert built the organization from the ground up with no revenue streams or secured business, and made the sports commission relevant to the community.
Gilbert cultivated relationships with some of the region’s most esteemed private and public leaders. He developed an entrepreneurial business mode, unique among sports commissions, in which the organization becomes a management and financial partner with the rights holders of more than 90 percent of the events attracted.
Over the past 11 years, Gilbert’s business model and organizational infrastructure have produced events that are more successful in Cleveland than similar events have been in other cities.
The sports commission’s overall vision is to continue growing its relevance to the community in terms of economic value. Its goal is to attract significant sporting events that boost economic activity while showcasing Cleveland to visitors. The established business model allows the commission to provide more services its peers across the country, offering the ability to manage events from start to finish. Through the years, Gilbert and his team have developed strong relationships with events rights holders and have proven themselves successful time and time again, leading to repeat business.
The entrepreneurial nature of Gilbert’s business model was epitomized by the creation of an event development fund, a separately raised fund that serves as venture capital to assist with the development of proprietary events.
How to reach: Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, (216) 621-0600 or www.clevelandsports.org