From left: Karl Schmidt, head of the Louisville Sports Commission; Karen Williams, president and CEO of the Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau; Timothy Schneider, chairman of Northstar Travel Group’s sports division; Denise Parker, vice president of National Governing Body Services for the U.S. Olympic Committee; and Ellen Hesen, deputy mayor. | Photo by Caitlin Bowling

This October, individuals who help organize U.S. Olympic and Paralympic events will meet in Louisville to share best practices and network with cities and venues that want to host sports-related events.

The attendees are leaders at some of the 113 organizations responsible for selecting all the country’s summer and winter Olympic and Paralympic teams. The organizations together have a total of 88 million members and participants.

The Olympic SportsLink and National Governing Body Best Practices Seminar will be held Oct. 1-4 as part of an agreement with Northstar Travel Group, which organizes the annual TEAMS Conference and Expo. Northstar announced in December 2016 that the TEAMS conference would be held in Louisville this year.

“For planners’ meetings and sporting events, we believe Louisville is a destination that gets it,” said Timothy Schneider, chairman of Northstar’s sports division.

The new Omni Louisville, opening in March, will be the primary hotel for both events, which will take place at the newly renovated Kentucky International Convention Center, set to open midsummer.

Both events will be held concurrently from now on, Schneider announced. Wherever the TEAMS conference goes, Olympic SportsLink and National Governing Body Best Practices Seminar will go.

When asked if the TEAMS conference plans to return to Louisville after 2018, Schneider said Northstar and representative from the Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau will discuss that at a later time. The last time the conference was held in Louisville was in 2007, and Louisville will be only the third city that the conference has been held in twice, he noted.

“It’s really exciting to be part of an even bigger event now,” said Deputy Mayor Ellen Hesen.

Insider previously reported that the TEAMS conference would have an estimated $1.4 million impact on Louisville. The direct economic impact will increase slightly with the addition of the seminar, Schneider said. The TEAM conference also could generate other activity in the city as it is a conference for youth, collegiate and professional organizations who host sporting and sports-related events.

Karl Schmitt, executive director of the Louisville Sports Commission, noted that, in the past 15 years, the city has held more than 20 Olympic and Paralympic-style championships in volleyball, basketball, fencing, cycling and gymnastics.

“We have a strong reputation for hosting Olympic-style national championships,” he said, adding that facilities such as the KFC Yum! Center add to that reputation.

The sports commission also recently raised $1 million to upgrade the BMX facility at E.P. “Tom” Sawyer State Park to “Olympic standards,” and there are plans for a world-class indoor track facility at Heritage West, Schmitt said.

“To showcase our community, to reinforce our commitment to the Olympic movement and to further our position as a host destination for sporting events at the highest level is just an amazing day for sports in Louisville,” he said.

Louisville native Caitlin Bowling has covered the local restaurant and retail scene since 2014. After graduating from the Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, Caitlin got her start at a newspaper in the mountains of North Carolina where she won multiple state awards for her reporting. Since returning to Louisville, she’s written for Business First and Insider Louisville, winning awards for health and business reporting and becoming a go-to source for business news. In addition to restaurants and retail business, Caitlin covers real estate, economic development and tourism. Email Caitlin at [email protected]


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