Myrtle Beach Sports Center looks to get in on ‘$120 billion industry’ if contract renewed

The management company affiliated with the Myrtle Beach Sports Center hopes to bring a different type of sporting event to the facility if city officials renew its lease as the expiration looms.

Sports Facility Management Advisory, LLC, a sports tourism company, has been managing the indoor sports complex since it opened in 2015. Representatives with the company appeared before Myrtle Beach City Council on Thursday during their monthly workshop meeting to discuss renewing the lease for an additional five years.

The current lease is set to expire in March.

Jason Clement, CEO and co-founder of SFA/SFM, told city leaders his company plans to recruit more innovative events, optimize the sports center, boost its branding and marketing, and increase revenue per visit if officials renew the lease.

The company also plans to invest in more security, focus on the food and beverage revenues, and bring more attractions to the center, including esports — multiplayer, strategic videos game leagues and tournaments.

“The youth and amateur sports industry is a $15 to $20 billion dollar industry and (the city) has been capitalizing on that for quite some time,” Clement said. “Esports and gaming is a $120 billion industry. We see that as a major opportunity in these types of venues.”

Clement said the revenue from potential esports and gaming tournaments could be used to refurbish some of the building’s aging infrastructure and upgrade its technology to attract larger events, along with local or regional tournaments.

“The Myrtle Beach Sports Center is a beacon in our industry,” Clement said. “It’s utilized as an example in a premier flagship venue for indoor sports centers throughout the country.”

Clement said the facility’s success has resulted in the venue, located off 21st Avenue North, dramatically outperforming sustainability and economic impact goals each year, with projections for 2020 already met this year.

“The original forecast for direct spending and economic impact as a result of the sports center’s performance was $55 million and we are at $100 million,” Clement said. “In justification for developing the sports center we’re very proud of that.”

He added the company is projecting further growth in 2020.

Currently, the city spends $144,000 annually, or $12,000 monthly, on the agency’s base management fees. During its first two years, the city spent $336,000, with a total of $312,000 paid in 2017 and 2018.

Sports Facility Management Advisory, LLC oversees management, leadership, marketing, branding, human resources, recruiting, booking, operations, legal, and accounting services for the venue. Clement noted that Myrtle Beach pays 30 percent less in management fees than most facilities the company manages throughout the country.

“It’s a good service we’re providing,” Clement said.

The company also receives bonus incentives for hitting certain milestones, such as a booking incentive fee of 2 percent of the total gross in revenues. According to the contract between SFA/SFM and Myrtle Beach, the booking incentive is included to encourage the company to increase revenue.

The Myrtle Beach Sports Center showed a positive bottom line of $112,000, after all management fees and bonuses were paid to SFA/SFM, according to City Spokesperson Mark Kruea. The $112,000 goes into the city’s sports tourism fund, he said.

Clement said it’s rare for a public tourism venue to be a positive contributor to a city’s bottom line.

“The success that we’ve had together is something that we’re really proud of and want to continue,” Clement said. “While it’s been a really good start in the first five years for the sports center, the best is truly yet to come.”

Anna Young is the Coastal Cities reporter for The Sun News covering anything and everything that happens locally. Young, an award-winning journalist who got her start reporting local news in New York, is dedicated to upholding the values of journalism by listening, learning, seeking out the truth and reporting it accurately. She earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from SUNY Purchase College.