Chamber speaker describes how sports benefits Maryland

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Dorchester Banner/Paul Clipper
Chamber Vice President Dean Goodman, speaker Terry Hasseltine, Director Deborah Divins, and Chamber President Jennifer Layton at the Thursday night dinner.

CAMBRIDGE — The 2014 Ironman Maryland event was front and center at the 69th Annual Dorchester Chamber of Commerce membership meeting and dinner on Feb. 5 at the Hyatt Regency Resort. Guest speaker Terry Hasseltine, executive director of Maryland Sports, followed introductory remarks by Chamber Director Deborah Divins and Chamber President Jennifer Layton. Mr. Hasseltine offered a dynamic, often humorous presentation after Chamber Vice President Dean Goodwin introduced him with some entertaining remarks of his own.

In 2008, Mr. Hasseltine joined Maryland Sports. By early 2014, he assumed additional responsibilities with the Maryland Stadium Authority as vice president of marketing and communication. Before joining the Kentucky Sports Authority, he was director of operations for the Greater Louisville Sports Commission, a championships administrator/regional director for the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), and a site coordinator for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

“I don’t like to stand still because in sports you don’t stand still,” said Mr. Hasseltine. As he talked about the economic impact of sports in Maryland, he energetically paced the stage, never lingering in one spot. In addition to amusement and sales taxes he emphasized increased tourism and its benefits to the service industry including hotels and restaurants. “I’m here to talk about the economics of sports. ‘Sports’ is big business that ignites the fabric in our community like no other venue can.”

Ironman Maryland in Dorchester County motivated the community and according to Mr. Hasseltine, “pulling it off in less than 4 months was brilliant.” He said some people thought the event was a success and some thought it was a failure. “I’m here to tell you it didn’t fail and here’s why. The public sector put less than $100,000 into the event. The economic impact of the event was over $3 million in the region. For what the public sector put into the event in hard cash and services you could invest $1 and receive somewhere close to $6.5 back on your investment.”

The speaker explained that Maryland Sports helps set and evaluate events that make sense so a community and the state receive a return on their investments. “Ironman Maryland will be an iconic event in the state. I guarantee it.” He noted that he was part of the team that brought Ironman to Louisville, Ky. They had 18 months to put event together; put the roads and bike routes together; put the swim together; put the pipe racks together; and connect all the agencies involved. “You had 4 months.”

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Dorchester Banner/Paul Clipper
Terry Hasseltine was the guest speaker at the Chamber dinner, and he stressed that sports, especially Ironman, are a great thing for community growth.

 

He noted that the Louisville competition with an 18 month lead time drew 2,900 participants with a gross return on the event of $5.2 million. “The event that’s going to resonate in the state is Ironman Maryland. Now you know the footprint; now you know what to expect; now more people outside of Dorchester are going to eat in your restaurants; stay in your hotels. How do we capitalize on that? It’s up to me and up to you in this room to bring it all together. Let Maryland Sports be part of the team. I want to be on the Dorchester team.”

Mr. Hasseltine emphasized economic development through sports as he noted that “sports are a $597 billion industry. Maryland Sports has engaged over a billion dollars worth of economic activity and secured over $500+ million dollars worth of those activities.”

The guest speaker recounted his excitement when, as a 5’6”, 112 lb. 16-year-old, he attended a dinner and sat at a table with iconic basketball players Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, and Larry Byrd. “I listened to them talk back and forth. They talked about everything.” It was his “aha” moment, he said, and emphasized that the “aha” moment for Dorchester County is Ironman Maryland.

He credits his father as “the guy who gave me the wisdom to listen to others. “Standing on the stage I’m 7’1”; standing on the ground I’m 5’6 1/4” but back in 1980 I could actually jump, touch a rim, because people gave me a chance.” He won college basketball scholarships but did not attend college until later in his life. Instead, he served in the U.S. Coast Guard and played professional soccer in Italy. “My dad told me, Terry, go get the ball out of your system because you’re going to flunk out of college. My dad was my mentor.”

Susan Bautz is a freelance writer for the Dorchester Banner.

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