Kevin Price commentary: Columbus Sports Council productive

April 20, 2011 

If you have a hard time tracking down Herbert Greene over the next few weeks, there is a good reason.

The executive director of the Columbus Sports Council will travel across the Columbus Civic Center parking lot to watch college softball. He’ll go to Peach Lanes to watch college bowling national championships.

The former Columbus State basketball coach and athletic director will visit Maple Ridge to see a college golf tournament. He’ll go by Cooper Creek to watch some tennis. He’ll open the curtains on his office at Golden Park to watch college baseball.

And that is just over the next 10 days. The month of May is just as busy. Open the calendar on the sports council’s website and there is something -- usually more than one event -- on every day.

It is all part of Greene’s vision for the sports council.

When Greene took on this role two years ago, he immediately noticed that there was a need to diversify the sports lineup, i.e., Columbus couldn’t rely on just one or two sports.

“Once we got into it and got going, we realized we needed to diversify, still with softball being our flagship,” Greene said. “We had to become a little bit more diverse and attract some other sports.”

So this year, there has been a cup stacking event. Beginning today, the United States Bowling Congress brings its Intercollegiate Team Championships to town. There was a fishing tournament earlier this month. There was college hockey in February.

The sports council also landed the Peach Belt Conference baseball tournament. Columbus State already has qualified for the eight-team field that will begin play May 8 at Golden Park, which is looking better than it has in a decade or more.

Greene hopes to bring the NCAA Division II national baseball championships to Columbus. The tournament was a longtime staple in Montgomery, Ala., but has since gone to Ohio and North Carolina without truly finding a home.

Greene also is working on adding a big fall event he was reluctant to name. The issue he is working through is that there is already a big event here during the same time period.

“The next eight weeks is really busy,” he said. “We are working very hard at trying to get November, December and January to be just as busy. We are making a little bit of progress, but it is not anywhere we would like it to be.”

In the early days of the sports council, the philosophy was to go after big-name events such as the Southeastern Conference baseball, softball and women’s basketball tournaments. Nowadays, Greene, assistant director Merri Sherman and event manager David Boyd look at the economic impact an event will have on Columbus.

While some of the events on the sports council’s calendar might not be huge draws for local spectators, they will help keep hotels and restaurants full.

Kevin Price, 706-593-8571,

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