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TEAMS ’12 Scores With Attendees

TEAMS ’12 (Travel Events and Management in Sports) Conference & Expo, organized by SportsTravel magazine, held Oct.1–4 at Cobo Conference & Exhibition Center in Detroit.

The annual event – an “intersection of sports and hospitality,” according to Lisa Furfine, SportsTravel’s associate publisher and TEAMS show manager – welcomed more than 1,200 sports events organizers, team managers, sponsors, and CVBs.


An ongoing struggle for TEAMS is finding ways to impress the not-so-easily impressed. Most attendees plan major events for national sports teams, and have seen some pretty amazing things in their day. 

“On the opening day, our general session was held on the floor of Joe Louis Arena,” Furfine said, “and we had an event at Ford Field, and Comerica Park, so in one day [attendees] saw three major venues. …They were kicking field goals at Ford Field, and one attendee even threw a pass for 65 yards.”

But TEAMS had even more surprises in store. “We bring sports-industry leaders in,” Furfine said, “and they get to experience what normal people wouldn’t get to do: Ride the Zamboni at Joe Louis Arena, be on the field of Ford Field, see the dugouts at Comerica Park. Experiential learning is what we try to do at TEAMS, because that’s what resonates with people the longest, is the most lasting, and also the most fun.”


One goal of TEAMS ’12 organizers was to drive home the fact that all of the attendees are part of a larger industry with a powerful economic impact. “In our remarks and introduction,” Furfine said, “we announced some updated [industry] facts and figures, and used that as a common thread throughout.” Such as: 27 percent of all trips taken in the United States are for the purpose of attending an organized sporting event; and the sports industry generates annual revenues of $200 billion.

“Our educational sessions dovetailed off of that,” Furfine said. Opening general- session speakers included George Zimmermann, vice president of Travel Michigan; Larry Alexander, president of the Detroit Metro CVB; and Chris Ilitch, president and CEO of Ilitch Holdings Inc., owners of the Detroit Tigers and the Detroit Red Wings. “We had the state, the city, and the teams’ owner represented,” Furfine said. “The gentlemen were talking about how [the attendees] were driving forces of economic growth.”

Attendees also got to experience a whole new dimension of TEAMS with the addition of a breakout-session format called TEAMS 3-D. “It was three different tracks of programming,” Furfine said, “based on topics like salesmanship, politics, and team management, and we encouraged everybody, regardless of what side of the industry they’re on, to all [sit in on] the topics that are most relevant to them.”

For the first half of TEAMS 3-D, people were separated based on years of experience. After the initial sessions, they could choose what topics they wanted to take a deeper dive into, placing attendees of all experience levels in mutually beneficial discussions. “We’re creating experiences and memories for people, which sports do,” Furfine said. “Whether experiencing or watching [sports], it changes peoples lives for the better.”

TEAMS Conference & Expo Details

2011 Las Vegas

  • 1,400 Attendees
  • 300 Exhibitors

2012 Detroit

  • 1,260 Attendees
  • 366 Exhibitors

For more

Sarah Beauchamp

Sarah Beauchamp was formerly assistant editor of Convene.