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Early Innings for OC Sports Commission

Pitches Surf, Action Sports And More for Local Events

The Orange County Sports Commission (OCSC), created in 2019 as a unit of the county’s largest destination marketing organization (DMO), Visit Anaheim, is looking to further build the area’s tourism sector through sporting events of all shapes and sizes.

“We might not be doing Super Bowls, but we have our own identity,” Senior Director Anthony Brenneman told the Business Journal.

“Whether its action sports, surfing or [volleyball], we’re looking for what fits for our destination.”

After the last two years of survival and “remaining solvent” amid pandemic-related shutdowns, Brenneman notes that 2022 has been about reintroducing the nonprofit organization to the sports marketplace.

“OC really sells itself,” said Brenneman, who plans to use sports as a driving force to show that the market is different from Los Angeles and San Diego.

The sports director knows the build will take time. “We’re only going to be as strong as the community’s support,” said Brenneman, who is also looking to relaunch the OC Sports Hall of Fame.

Growth Strategy

The OCSC has looked to build a buzz via its Golden Ticket Sweepstakes, which invites locals to enter a raffle to win a sports experience package. The prize was a pair of season tickets for the Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Angels, the Disneyland Resort and Knott’s Berry Farm, valued at approximately $5,000.

The organization introduced an ambassador program this year, featuring local athletes who will connect with students and schools. Brenneman wants the platform to be used as a professional development tool.

OCSC members and students were invited to its first “Sports Speaker Series” in September that featured sports industry executives and leaders in a panel discussion at the Anaheim Convention Center. The discussion featured representatives from Bally’s Sports West, Big West Conference and the Honda Center.

The inaugural event celebrated the 50-year anniversary of Title IX, the civil rights law that ensured opportunities for women and girls to equally access school sports.

Brenneman also pointed to projects like the $4 billion OCVibe redevelopment near the Honda Center in Anaheim that will help in attracting attendees and organizing future events.

The Honda Center will be host to the volleyball games for the Los Angeles Olympics in 2028.

Research and Discovery

The OCSC’s work has included supporting the International Surfing Association’s World Surf Games in September. Along with Visit Anaheim, local partners include Surf City DMO Visit Huntington Beach, the OC Fair & Events Center, and most recently John Wayne Airport.

The group is looking at more collegiate events such as bringing back the NCAA March Madness events. On the global side, Brenneman is also working with the International Volleyball Federation to host national league finals in the next few years.

Brenneman defines the current status as research and discovery mode—“to find balance between local community and support as well as something that will bring that economic impact,” he said.

“Every destination in OC is different, equipped for major events and others for youth and amateur events. It’s not always about finals.”

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