Looking forward to Birmingham, Alabama: DJ Mackovets, CEO of the Local Organising Committee, describes how the upcoming host paves the way for the 11th edition of The World Games in 2021. Read his thoughts about the venues, the budget, the sports and more!
“There is no better world stage than The World Games”.
Why did you bid for The World Games?
DJ Mackovets: There is no better world stage than The World Games to exhibit our pride in our sports venues and our pride in the way we accept people from around the world. For this reason we thought it would be a great challenge to go after The World Games and to win the event for 2021.
Can you tell us something about your budget model?
DJ Mackovets: Our budget model for major events in the US is much, much different than elsewhere in the world. Our money comes from the private sector such as corporations or corporate sponsorships. We also have commitments from the City of Birmingham, Jefferson County and the state of Alabama. I would like to give you a formula: probably 85 percent of our budget will come from the private sector and the other 15 from the public sector meaning our various levels of government.
Could you tell us more about the status of your preparations?
DJ Mackovets: We got started with our team in March. At The World Games 2017 in Wroclaw we came with about 40 people representing various aspects of our planning process in Birmingham. From the Mayor to police and fire staff, emergency and medical, facilities people and Board members. We looked at every aspect of the event to learn from this very successful edition. We are now on our way to evaluate what we have learned, and to adapt these lessons to the conditions we have in Birmingham and to our idea of how to deliver the Games. In December we will meet with the IWGA experts for the first Coordination Committee meeting to set up the framework of our preparations.
You don’t have to build any new venues for The World Games. Do you think that makes it easier for you?
DJ Mackovets: When we set out our bid in 2015, we made it clear that we do not have to build any new permanent facilities. We have plenty of outstanding facilities already in place. Let me give an example. We have great training facilities in terms of our Lakeshore venue. Athletes come there from all around the world for rehabilitation and training. We are excited about the opportunity to have this venue to showcase what Birmingham has to offer. But we know that for some of the sports we are very excited to host, like Sport Climbing and Beach Handball, we will need to build temporary facilities. And clearly we will have to adapt our existing structures, whether it’s for more seating or broadcast requirements.
How do you choose the venues for The World Games? What are your criteria?
DJ Mackovets: It’s not up to us alone to decide on the venues. First of all, the IWGA will evaluate the programme in Wroclaw and review it. After this the IWGA will ask every Federation to apply to take part in 2021. When we are sure which sports and disciplines are on the programme for 2021, we will decide which facilities meet the expectations to set the perfect stage for the athletes, in close cooperation with the IWGA and the international federations.
Do you have recommendations for which sports should be on the programme?
DJ Mackovets: We have identified some sports that we think will be important to have on the programme to help our ticket sales. Lacrosse, for example, is a sport that is very well known in the south ern United States. We have certainly seen some sports in Wroclaw that are very exciting to watch. I love Sport Climbing, it was spectacular at TWG 2017. The same with Beach Handball.
How about the invitational sports?
DJ Mackovets: We can bring in five invitational sports. We have not yet really started to talk about these sports. But in the US we like sports such as 3-on-3 Basketball and Duathlon. These would be things that could showcase our city. When we look at which sports we want to include, marketing will be a key part of our evaluation of what we want to see on the programme.
How do you plan to promote not only the Games but also the sports?
DJ Mackovets: Our citizens know that we are going to host The World Games in 2021. All the same I think we really have to start at home first. We have to educate our own community and our region in detail about what The World Games are. At the appropriate time we have got to find some television and marketing partners who can help us take the message of The World Games nationwide. It’s great to have the Games coming back to the United States. Obviously from 1981 it is a long time for them to be returning to the US. We know that the IWGA is very enthusiastic about building a stronger ‘brand awareness’ in the US. We intend to be a partner in this process.
Every edition of The World Games raises the bar. How do you intend to meet the expectations?
DJ Mackovets: Take some best practices and present these to the IWGA as ways to meet its requirements for the event in Birmingham. We will certainly look around the City and will talk to the people who are in the event production business. And we will look at all the best practices from the events that have been hosted in Birmingham in the past, whether they concern how to recruit volunteers, or the level of hospitality for the VIPs, the transportation of the athletes, or the media facilities. This means a lot of learning for us. We want to understand how we can make better use of social media to promote the Games. The level of broadcast production and distribution is an important benchmark for us. Finding the appropriate United States television partner will be a key step.
How about the weather in Birmingham?
DJ Mackovets: Bring a fan! It will be warm; we have very warm weather in summer. More than 35 degrees Celsius is quite normal for us. We will prepare the athletes, the volunteers and the spectators in how to deal with heat and the humidity. We have experience in the South with these conditions. We will make sure that we have a shade structure at the outdoor venues, and there will be plenty of coolants available, not only for athletes but also for spectators. And we have to provide adequate medical facilities as well. Of course we will also educate the IFs in how to train and prepare the athletes for that type of heat and humidity.