SBJ/Dec. 20-26, 2010/This Week's Issue

Sports architectural firm HKS launches event production business

Sports architect HKS has entered the event production business, launching a company called HKS World Events.

The Dallas-based firm is assisting the ACC Football Championship with ideas to generate additional revenue tied to sponsorships, hospitality and merchandise for next year’s game at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.

HKS World Events also has a contract in place with the 2011 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Greensboro, N.C., where the firm designed the layout for the Jan. 22-30 event’s three components: competition, practice ice and the fan fest.

“We are interested in working with big events that move,” said Sims Hinds, managing director of HKS World Events and a 32-year veteran of sports facility management.

“The past [year] we spoke to different organizational leaders, and while their logistical operations have been handled well, what’s missing is a Disneyesque experience for fans and sponsors,” Hinds said. “The real challenge is to create an event presentation that develops value for everybody.”

Two people with whom Hinds has worked — Jeff Elliott, the ACC’s chief financial officer, and Hill Carrow, chairman of the figure skating championships — used HKS World Events to help develop their events.

In Charlotte, five of the firm’s workers, including Hinds, were given media credentials for the 2010 edition of the championship game Dec. 4 to record their observations, and will submit their review to ACC officials by early January, Elliott said.

The two parties could do a deal for next year’s game at the same venue if it makes sense for the conference, he said.

“We will analyze it and see where it leads us,” Elliott said. “There may be things we can do that we are not doing to increase revenue for our member schools.”

Up Interstate 85, where the Greensboro Coliseum Complex is preparing for the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, it is the first year that all of the event’s activities will be set up under one roof.

HKS World Events developed a logistical plan to manage traffic flow for the main competition inside the 24,000-seat arena and the practice rink and fan fest in the adjoining events center.

Practice sessions will be free to the public for the first time, said Carrow, whose company, Sports & Properties, is managing the event and subcontracted with HKS. The fan fest is free as well.

“It is a unique presentation, convenient for the athletes and the fans,” Carrow said. “But it is more complex, and all of that HKS is assisting us with.”

HKS is not the first sports design firm to work in event production. Populous has been doing much of the same thing for about 30 years.

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