KC: You moved into the role of executive director for Visit Corpus Christi‘s Sports Commission in June of this year. How have the first few months in this role been, and what inspired you to take the position in the first place?
JJ: The first few months have been great. The people here have been incredibly welcoming to me and my family and have made it pretty easy to make the transition. The summer is our busy time of year, so we’ve been jumping from event to event, which is really exciting. Being able to see sporting events we already host gives me a good idea of what we do well and where we can grow. I think, ultimately, the keyword here is “exciting.” Coming back home to Texas has always been a desire of mine, but when I heard about the opportunity in Corpus Christi there was just so much potential that it was hard not to get excited. We’re primed for some pretty amazing things.
KC: What does the Sports Commission do, exactly?
JJ: The Sports Commission is responsible for the sports tourism efforts in Corpus Christi. We’ll go out and bid on regional, national and international sports events, offer services and support to locally owned sports events, advocate for the construction of sports venues and fields and build the reputation of Corpus Christi as the Gulf Coast Capital for Sports. We’re really looking forward to continuing to build relationships with local stakeholders and driving economic impact for the community.
KC: Can you elaborate on how sporting events aid the local economy?
JJ: When sports spectators and participants visit our city, they usually visit places in addition to the stadium or arena. They may get dinner at one of our local restaurants or pre-game at a sports bar. They may arrive a day early and stay in a hotel, or extend their trip and book a deep-sea fishing expedition. All these people are spending or depositing what we call “new money” into the local economy. The more new money we have, the more our community has to distribute. By partnering with community stakeholders, we’re able to influence sports spectators and participants to spend money throughout the city.
KC: What are some events and/or programs on your to-do list as the executive director of the Sports Commission?
JJ: We’re still in the process of putting our strategic plan together, so I don’t have any specifics for you yet — but what I can say is we want events that fit the culture of our community. Events that not only impact the local economy but tie into the local interests and pride. Corpus Christi loves its baseball and has some of the best winds for water sports in the world. So maybe we’ll start there.
KC: What are some challenges the city faces when it comes to building and enriching our sports landscape?
JJ: I think our sports facilities could use a little love. Luckily, the city is addressing some of this with the passing of a recent bond, and there are some private projects that are also in the works. Ideally, we’d like to have facilities that provide access to community needs while also being designed in a way that meets the standards of large, high-end sports tournaments and events. Periodic large events can help maintain and cover the overhead costs of a facility so the community can enjoy a nice facility on a daily basis.
KC: What do you imagine the future of professional sports in Corpus Christi will look like?
JJ: We’ll still have the big four sports with the Corpus Christi Hooks, Ice Rays, Corpus Christi FC and Texas A&M University-CC for basketball. Corpus Christi FC is planning some interesting things with a proposed new stadium and field complex. They’re currently in the second division of the USL, but hope to move up to the highest level in the future. We also have professional surfers, windsurfers, sailors and fishermen, all of whom have competed in, and in some cases won, national and international championships. My hope is that we’ll be able to shed some light on all our professional sports and athletes.
KC: What are a couple of events or projects coming up that you’re excited about?
JJ: June, July and August were heavy event months for us, which included the State Games of Texas, 7s by the Sea Rugby Tournament, Express Beach Soccer Tournament and J24 World Championships hosted by the Corpus Christi Yacht Club. We currently have some facility and infrastructure development conversations coming up that are exciting, too. And this is all simultaneous with wrapping up our destination evaluation and the building of the foundation of the Sports Commission.
KC: Any favorite local spots so far?
JJ: As a baseball fan, I’ve been spending a lot of time at Whataburger Field to see the Hooks play. The Executive Surf Club, Snoopy’s Pier and the Padre Island National Seashore are other favorites.