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CINCINNATI (December 19, 2022) – Al Kidd, who has served as the President & CEO of Sports ETA, the only trade association for the sports events and tourism industry, announced he will retire on June 30, 2023. Kidd joined Sports ETA in 2017 after a successful business career, which included serving as the CEO for the San Diego Sport Association for eight years. Searchwide Global has been retained to conduct the executive search for Sports ETA.
Sports ETA, which serves more than 600 member organizations and 2,400 sports event professionals, is widely known for its “State of the Industry” study, which reported $39.7 billion in 2021 in direct spending on amateur sporting events equating to $91.8 billion in economic impact across the United States.
During his tenure, Kidd led the brand name change from National Association of Sports Commissions to Sports Events & Tourism Association or Sports ETA to engage the growing industry in an inclusive manner.
“We thank Al Kidd for his dedication and leadership to Sports ETA, as well as his efforts to enhance our relevancy within the industry over the past six years,” said Don Dukemineer, STS, CHSP, Director of Sports Development, Decatur Morgan County Tourism & Board Chair of Sports ETA. “Al’s knowledge and experience led the Association to seek new heights and improve member benefits with a focus on advancing the membership with education, advocacy, research, and networking or the ‘EARN philosophy,’ a term he coined for Sports ETA.”
Increasing continuing education among the membership was a key priority for Kidd and his leadership team, especially during the pandemic. Sports ETA revamped its entire website to improve access, including the development of a proprietary education Learning Management System (LMS), which delivers online educational content on a 24/7 basis. The association also introduced two new member benefits: Sports Events & Entertainment Network, which provides video features on members and their organizations, and the Sports Tourism Learning Institute, an entirely new educational program aimed at providing industry-leading content that features expert thought leaders.
“The launch of the new educational programs and opportunities for our members has made a significant impact on our sports events and tourism industry,” said Janis Burke, STS, CEO of Harris County – Houston Sports Authority & Past Board Chair of Sports ETA. “Al and his team have elevated our association’s educational experiences to new heights to ensure the next generation is prepared to lead our industry.”
Additionally, under Kidd’s leadership, Sports ETA developed a number of high-profile strategic industry partnerships including: 4FRONT, Destinations International, EventConnect, Life in the Front Office Podcast, Northstar Meeting Group, MPI, Ohio University’s Sports Gambling Education program, Playeasy, and Threshold 360, among others.
During the early months of the pandemic, Sports ETA created ten dedicated member communities to better connect members to topics of most interest based on research. These Community Groups include: Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Facilities, Industry Partners, Large Market, L.E.A.D. (Leading, Engaging, And Developing), Rights Holders, Small to Mid-Market Destinations, State Association Leaders, Women's, and Young Professionals. These groups continue to meet regularly to accomplish strategic initiatives to support the sports events and tourism industry.
“Over the last six years, Sports ETA has significantly increased our organization’s relevancy, both nationally and internationally, thanks in large part to Al Kidd’s leadership,” said Mike Price, STS, Executive Director, Greater Lansing Sports Authority & Past Board Chair of Sports ETA. “Al’s legacy for Sports ETA is one of inclusion and innovation, and we thank him for his stewardship.”
Sports ETA also launched a strategic focus on research led by nationally-recognized sports business researcher Dr. Jennifer Stoll. With Kidd’s collaboration led by Dr. Stoll with industry partners, the annual “State of the Industry” report was revamped to be more inclusive of the total economic impact of the industry. The Sports Tourism Research Institute was also established to publish landmark research on a number of topics of interest to members.
”The new ‘State of the Industry’ report, along with the multitude of industry white papers, have elevated the research arm and expertise of Sports ETA on a national and international level,” said Kindra Fry, CDME, STS, SMP, TDM, Assistant Athletic Director for Special Event Services, Texas A&M University & Past Board Chair of Sports ETA. “The work of the Sports Tourism Research Institute will continue to strategically guide our membership for years to come.”
Sports ETA has held its Annual Symposium for more than 30 years. The event is one of the largest annual gatherings of the sports events and tourism industry to focus on educational programming and networking opportunities. Over the last six years, Sports ETA has expanded its networking events to include: a reimagined national symposium while adding four signature events, including the 4S Summit, Women’s Summit, Facilities Summit, and the Chief Executive Summit. Additionally, Sports ETA produced the first-ever virtual trade business event for the sports tourism industry in the early months of the pandemic.
About Sports ETA:
As the only trade association for the sports events and tourism industry, Sports ETA is the most trusted resource for sports commissions, destination marketing organizations (DMOs), and sports event owners. Sports ETA is committed to the success of more than 600 member organizations and 2,400 sports event professionals. We promise to deliver quality education, ample networking opportunities, and exceptional event management and marketing know-how to our members - sports destinations, sports event owners, and suppliers to the industry - and to protect the integrity of the sports events and tourism industry. For more information, visit SportsETA.org.
Contact: Jackie Reau