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KANSAS CITY, MO (March 9, 2023) – Four leaders in the sports and events tourism industry were enshrined into the Sports ETA Hall of Fame today at the organization’s annual Symposium. The new Hall of Fame members are: Susan Blackwood, former Executive Director of the San Antonio Sports Foundation, Rick Hatcher, President & CEO of Play Treasure Coast Sports Tourism, Suzann Stewart, founder of the Tulsa Sports Commission, and Steve Ducoff, former President of Association of Chief Executives of Sport (ACES).
The Sports ETA Hall of Fame is a lifetime achievement award recognizing long-standing and significant accomplishments in, and major contributions to, the industry trade association, Sports ETA, and the overall sports tourism industry. The Sports ETA Hall of Fame was launched in 2017, and there have been four induction classes with 14 honorees.
“Sports ETA is honored to welcome four new members into the association’s prestigious Hall of Fame,” said Al Kidd, President & CEO of Sports ETA. “Susan Blackwood, Rick Hatcher, Suzann Stewart and Steve Ducoff have all made major impacts in our industries and their respective communities that are celebrated and recognized by their induction into the Sports ETA Hall of Fame.”
Blackwood was hired as Executive Director of the San Antonio Sports Foundation in 1996 where she was tasked with recruiting major sports events for the City of San Antonio. She got off to a strong start with the city’s first-ever NCAA Men’s Final Four Basketball Championship in 1998. The tournament was a big hit in San Antonio and as a result, two more Men’s Final Fours in 2004 and 2008, and two Women’s Final Fours in 2002 and 2010 were to follow during Susan’s tenure. In addition, the Foundation, since renamed San Antonio Sports, hosted the 2002 and 2011 NCAA D-I Volleyball Championships and four NCAA Basketball Regionals. The Rock ‘N Roll San Antonio Marathon, also started during Susan’s tenure, annually attracts 25,000 participants to the city and helped launch a new fitness culture in the community. Complementing its major national event projects, the Foundation under Susan’s leadership created an afterschool program providing fundamental training to low-income students at 30 local schools in golf, soccer, track & field, and volleyball. During her tenure at San Antonio Sports, Susan took the organization from a budget of $125,000 to $3.4 million. It was calculated that the Foundation had a direct economic impact of over $424 million on greater San Antonio, not counting additional millions in national media exposure. Even when Susan retired as President & CEO in 2012, she didn’t stop there; instead she headed up a $15 million legacy funding campaign for the Foundation that would support kids programs for many years to come.
Hatcher is the President & CEO of Play Treasure Coast Sports Tourism, formerly known as the Treasure Coast Sports Commission, where he oversees the marketing, promotion, and recruitment of sports events that have a positive impact on Indian River, St. Lucie, and Martin Counties along the central east coast of Florida. Rick has served in various leadership capacities in the sports tourism industry for over 26 years and currently serves as the President of the Florida Sports Hall of Fame. Previously, Rick served as Executive Director of the Lexington Area Sports Authority in Lexington, Kentucky; Executive Director of the Bluegrass State Games; and Executive Director of the Tallahassee Sports Council in Tallahassee, Florida. Prior to his current position, Rick served as Director of Business Development for PSA Sports & Event Partners, working with a number of Olympic sport governing bodies on their site selections and housing for regional, national, and international events. Rick has served on the boards of the National Congress of State Games and the Florida Sports Foundation. Here at Sports ETA, Rick has served two stints on the Board and on many of the organization’s committees including the Awards Committee and Hall of Fame Committee. A former Chairman of Sports ETA, Rick continues as a member of the Sports ETA Leadership Council.
Stewart got her start In the sports tourism industry as Executive Director of Visit Tulsa, where in 1990 she founded the Tulsa Sports Commission as a stand-alone 501(c)(3) corporation. At that time, the National Association of Sports Commissions (NASC), now Sports ETA, was in its early stages of organization, and Suzann was able to get in on the ground floor of helping launch the new national trade association for the sports tourism industry. Suzann served on virtually every committee of the NASC, including strategic planning and governance. She served on the Boards of both the national association and Destinations International (DI). She was a regular presenter at Symposium and at DI as well. Suzann became Chairman of NASC and placed on emphasis on women and girls in sport, Title 9, and women in leadership roles in sports organizations of all types. Today she continues as a member of the Sports ETA Leadership Council. Back in Tulsa, Suzann led the Sports Commission to become a national leader in both hosting sports events and developing new facilities. Under her guidance, Tulsa hosted PGA and US Open Golf Championships, BMX Racing, equestrian events, cycling competitions, and NAIA, NCAA, and Olympic sport championships. She also led the local effort that developed Tulsa’s new arena, the BOK Center.
Ducoff got his start in the sports industry in the United States Air Force where he served as the Chief of the Air Force Sports and Recreation Division, where he was responsible for the Air Force’s worldwide sports and recreation programs. He retired in 1994 from the Air Force after 25 years of service and took on the role of President & CEO of the Colorado Springs Sports Corporation where he helped lead sports tourism initiatives in the Pikes Peak region, working closely with the US Olympic Committee and US Olympic sport governing bodies. In 2000, he became the Executive Director of the Billiard Congress of America. He later became the Executive Director of USA Shooting. In 2006, Steve formed his own company, Ducoff Enterprises, and took on projects for the Sports Travel Foundation, USA Volleyball, USA Hang Gliding, USA Swimming, and the USOC. An additional project was the formation of the Association of Chief Executives of Sport (ACES), which became a member of NASC and which Steve led for many years. Steve served on many sports and tourism organization boards and in various Board leadership positions with those organizations including the US Olympic Committee, NASC, Colorado Springs CVB, USA Boxing where he served as Vice President, and the US Bobsled & Skeleton Federation, where he served as Treasurer. Steve unfortunately passed away in 2017.
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 to protect the integrity of the sports events and tourism industry. For more information, visit SportsETA.org.