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October 25, 2012

Economic council pitches sports tourism project


“I can understand the severe economic conditions the county is under,” Colone said. Most county representatives are aware of the proposal, Colone said, and he said he hopes to be invited to a meeting of the full board to ``defend it tooth and nail.”

In September, Colone presented the proposal to the board’s Intergovernmental Affairs Committee and requested bed tax revenues. The committee took no action, according to minutes.

At its Oct. 16 meeting, the Oneonta Common Council approved a motion to support GO-EDC’s sports-based tourism program “in all ways appropriate.” The motion didn’t include any funding.

Oneonta Town Supervisor Robert Wood said the Oneonta Town Board wasn’t sure what type of action to take regarding the proposal when Colone spoke to the board at a recent meeting. The idea is good but needs to be more focused, Wood said, and there is concern that the commission isn’t a formally established organization.

The Town Board does support the concept in general, Wood said, and the proposal is likely to be revisited at a future meeting.

The commission would work in “tight coordination” with the Otsego County Tourism office, the proposal said, and would have an independent advisory panel to include members from town, city and county governing boards.

The proposal said it would not be unreasonable to have a dynamic year-round agenda of sports programs within five years if a sports commission were formed. The programs could attract 800 to 1,000 new customers each weekend when fully in place, the proposal said, and generate $70,000 to $90,000 each weekend in additional travel revenue. The proposal also cites examples of increased tourism income and sales tax and bed tax revenues.

The initiative aims to involve local youth, club, recreational, semi-professional and fitness organizations and their games, tournaments, events and other activities.

The proposed budget expenses include $32,500 for a personnel services/director, $25,000 for regional media advertising, $10,000 for equipment and supplies to support event organizers, among other expenses.

On the revenue side, the proposal lists $5,000 in sponsorships, gifts and grants in addition to the bed taxes and question marks for income from the city and town of Oneonta.

GO-EDC’s next meeting will be at the Hampton Inn in Oneonta at 4 p.m. Nov. 20, Colone said.

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