New sports comm. looks to score big in River Region

Posted by Bryan Henry  -  bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Cramton Bowl, Riverwalk Stadium and the Alabama River are just a few venues the Central Alabama Sports Commission is counting on to score big in the world of youth and adult sports.

"Economic development is really what we're dealing with," said Executive Director Ken Blankenship.

Over lunch at the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Montgomery, Blankenship and its 10 board members tossed around ideas ranging from tweaking the logo to doing an in-depth study on the area's sporting facilities.

"The next thing we want to do is keep the events we already have here," said Blankenship.

In a press conference after lunch, Blankenship described the commission as more of a 'clearinghouse of contacts' to bring tournaments and championships to central Alabama. The mayors of surrounding cities say this is not about them competing against each other. Serving as Ex Officio members of the sports commission include Prattville Mayor Jim Byard, Millbrook Mayor Al Kelley, Wetumpka Mayor Jerry Willis and Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange.

What kind of sporting competition? Blankenship says you name it, they want it.

"For example, volleyball, soccer, tennis and cheerleading," said Blankenship.

Speaking of Ken Blankenship, he will be the only paid member of the commission. Blankenship signed a one-year deal. WSFA 12 News has learned the city of Montgomery and the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce are paying his salary of $55,000 a year.

Along with setting up a web site, there is another idea the commission is looking at; studying the concept of having an indoor all-purpose facility built, similar to the one in Pelham, Alabama.

The Central Alabama Sports Commission says it's already had a hand in landing an all-star football game in Montgomery next month. The Historic Black Colleges and Universities Bowl will be played on December 19th at Cramton Bowl.

"It will work," said a confident Blankenship and Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange.

Starting from the ground up, the Central Alabama Sports Commission is convinced this will work but it will be highly competitive. The way the business works now is communities generally have to bid for a particular sporting even, a grueling match-up with hundreds of cities across the land.

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