Al Kidd, who has served as president and chief executive officer of the Sports Events and Tourism Association since 2017, will retire from the position, effective June 30, 2023. Searchwide Global has been retained to conduct the search for the next executive of the sports-events industry association.
Kidd joined Sports ETA as only its second chief executive after a successful business career, which included serving as the chief executive officer for the San Diego Sport Association for eight years. Among other accomplishments, he led the association’s brand name change from National Association of Sports Commissions to the Sports Events Tourism Association, or Sports ETA, to engage the growing industry in an inclusive manner.
Sports ETA is a 600-member organization with 2,400 sports event professionals, whose work has included the State of the Industry study, sponsored by Northstar Meetings Group, 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.
In 2017, Kidd succeeded Don Schumacher, who had been the association’s only chief executive since its founding in 1992.
“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, director of sports development for Decatur Morgan County (Alabama) Tourism and the 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 the association’s education efforts was a key priority for Kidd and his leadership team, especially during the pandemic. During his time in leadership, Sports ETA revamped its website to improve access including the development of a proprietary education learning management system. The association also introduced the Sports Events & Entertainment Network, which provides video features on members and their organizations, and the Sports Tourism Learning Institute, a 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, chief executive officer of the Harris County – Houston Sports Authority and a 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.”
Also under Kidd’s leadership, Sports ETA developed a number of high-profile strategic industry partnerships including deals with 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.
And he also led the creation of 10 dedicated member communities to better connect members to topics of most interest based on research. Those efforts focused on diversity, equity and inclusion, facilities, industry partners, large markets, L.E.A.D. (Leading, Engaging, And Developing), rights holders, small to mid-market destinations, state associations, women and young professionals.
“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, executive director of the Greater Lansing (Michigan) Sports Authority and a past Sports ETA board chair. “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 sports business researcher Jennifer Stoll, which included the State of the Industry Report. The Sports Tourism Research Institute was also established to publish landmark research on 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, assistant athletic director for special event services at Texas A&M University and a past Sports ETA board chair. “The work of the Sports Tourism Research Institute will continue to strategically guide our membership for years to come.”
Over the past 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.