NORFOLK — The Hampton Roads Sports Commission is now an official “team member” of the Hampton Roads Chamber.
And its work to attract major athletic events, and promote local youth and adult sports will continue.
Claudell Clark, former executive director of the commission for two years, now serves as the chamber’s vice president for regional sports.
The former baseball coach and athletic administrator at Norfolk State University said the change will allow sports to integrate more fully into the region’s economy and the daily lives of residents.
He said the decision to dissolve the commission and move it under the chamber came after an overall look at the commission’s operating expenditures and sources of revenue from the surrounding cities.
“We just thought this was the best move for the sustainability of sports as it relates to the chamber of commerce moving forward,” Clark said. “We really want to have this exposure, penetration, effect and influence on sports in the region.”
Formerly operating in an “office of one,” Clark said he will now have the complete backing of the chamber’s staff of 20 and its countless connections, resources and visibility.
Formed in 1999 as a public-private partnership between seven Hampton Roads cities and the Hampton Roads Chamber, the commission’s primary goal was to attract major amateur athletic events and highlight regional collaboration.
On April 12, the board voted unanimously on the decision and all of its members will now function as trustees.
Bryan Stephens, chamber president and CEO, said in a news release that it will be a net positive for the chamber and the commission’s mission because they recognize the importance of sporting events to tourism and the area’s brand.
“Claudell will promote Hampton Roads as a destination for athletic competitions and be a liaison between the business community and municipalities,” Stephens said.
Clark said he feels energized and ready to go to bat.
“We will collaborate with the localities to bring more visitors here because, let’s face it, southeastern Virginia is a terrific destination with ample hotel rooms and a wide range of affordable restaurants,” Clark said.
Sandra J. Pennecke, 757-652-5836, [email protected]