David Gilbert speaks about the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission

David Gilbert, president and CEO, Greater Cleveland Sports Commission

In late August, Smart Business sponsored the third installment of its Power Players luncheon series, which featured David Gilbert, president and CEO of the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission.

In the almost 12 years that the commission has been around, it has been responsible for bringing in 104 events to town, with an economic impact of more than $310 million.

“Most of them are the U.S. Jump Rope World Team Trials, the U.S. Taekwondo Junior Championship — not sexy events, but the common denominator in every one of those is they bring people to town,” he says.

And that’s the key. Bringing people to town means more people spending money in the region. The commission strives to bring as many events as it can to town, but to also run them better than the rest of the competition.

“Really, it’s no different than any other business,” Gilbert says. “How do you try to find out what a customer’s needs are and do what you can to make your business better.

“Where we’ve set the mark in the community is the ability to service these events better than anybody else in the country.”

Out of about 250 sports commissions across the country, the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission is one of the largest with 14 full-time employees and has become one of the top three or four sports commissions as a result of its service excellence.

This level of excellence has allowed it to secure two major events for the region — the 2013 National Senior Games and the 2014 Gay Games, which combined should bring more than 30,000 people to the region. Additionally, the organization has hosted several major Olympic qualifying events and expects to see more of these major events in the future.

“It’s very much about building a reputation,” he says. “More often than not, now our leads come directly. Instead of us going out and begging people – it certainly still happens — regularly — but we get calls saying, ‘Hey you hosted [this] and did a great job, would you consider hosting [that]?’ That’s helped a great deal. It’s developing relationships with individual organizations.”

How to reach: Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, (216) 621-0600 or www.clevelandsports.org