from the Staff Report at Greensboro.com and courtesy of Robert Hogewood, head tennis coach at Page High School, and Son of Mike/Mike Hogewood, former Sports Director at WGHP TV 8 in High Point, and at WFMY TV 2, in Greensboro…
We(GreensboroSports.com) know from past experience when working on local sports events, like the HAECO Invitational Basketball Tournament, that the Big Man, Demp Bradford puts in the time, and he gets the job done….Good to see him returning to Greensboro, and we look forward seeing his work being done again, to better the Gate City, and our surrounding communities, in the Triad….
News and Record staff report:
Demp Bradford is returning to Greensboro. His plan is for sports events to follow him.
Bradford, a former Greensboro Sports Commission vice president who has been leading sports tourism efforts in Asheville for six years, has been hired as vice president and chief operating officer of the Greensboro Sports Foundation. Bradford will begin work July 1.
Bradford’s hire follows recent news that Richard Beard would become the foundation’s president and chief executive officer.
Bradford’s responsibility will be operations management and execution of events supported by the Greensboro Sports Foundation. He also will help expand the Greensboro Sports Foundation’s presence in sports tourism.
Bradford has been president and executive director of the Asheville Buncombe Regional Sports Commission. Among Bradford’s top events and achievements have been an extension of the Southern Conference basketball tournament contract through 2025; three Billie Jean King/Fed Cups; and the relocation of the Maui Invitational from Hawaii during COVID-19.
“Demp’s previous experience in Greensboro, with the addition of leading Sports Tourism in Asheville, adds strong leadership to the Greensboro Sports Foundation and our vision to build on the Tournament Town brand,” Beard said in a news release.
Bradford helped direct more than 800 community volunteers for the Tournament Host Committee of Greensboro from 2005 to 2016. He also served as executive director of the Greensboro Youth Soccer Association from 1998 to 2004.
Bradford has worked with the ACC men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, the 2011 and 2015 U.S. Figure Skating Championships and national championship events at the Greensboro Aquatic Center.
“Asheville has played a critical part of my professional development and my life and it will always be special to me but I look forward to taking on this new challenge,” Bradford said in a news release. “Greensboro has tremendous facilities and incredible people, and I look forward to helping to bring sporting events to Greensboro.”
**********Asheville grew as sports destination during commission director Demp Bradford’s tenure**********
from James Crabtree-Hannigan, with the Asheville Citizen Times/www.citizen-times.com
Considering how the political winds were shifting in 2016, Demp Bradford wasn’t sure his tenure as executive director of the Asheville Buncombe Regional Sports Commission would last more than a few months.
Leagues and conferences amateur and professional were pulling events from North Carolina in the wake of the state legislature passing HB2, a sweeping anti-LGBTQ law, and the Southern Conference was considering following suit.
Asheville’s reputation as a progressive, inclusive city helped convince the SoCon to keep its basketball tournament at Harrah’s Cherokee Center, and in the six years since, Bradford has helped the nonprofit commission attract bigger events and grow existing ones.
Bradford, who is leaving the commission at the end of this month, told the Citizen Times he believes continuing to improve athletic facilities in the region is the biggest key to ensuring Asheville’s emergence as a sporting destination.
“Hopefully, Asheville can continue to build on the facilities, renovate facilities, and I think the future is bright for Asheville,” Bradford said. “Whoever follows me, hopefully, will build on that.”
Founded in 2011, the Asheville Buncombe Regional Sports Commission’s mission is to help Asheville and surrounding areas attract and host sporting events, which can provide boosts to the region’s economy.
Bradford took over for the commission’s original director in 2016, arriving from Greensboro.
“I had a previous relationship with the Southern Conference through UNCG,” Bradford said. “I thought that Asheville has some unique things that bring people to the community, and people like to come to Asheville.”
Once the potential HB2 boycott was avoided, Bradford and the commission could shift their focus to other events, such as the Billie Jean King Cup (called Fed Cup at the time), the premier international women’s tennis tournament.
Asheville hosted Team USA’s BJK Cup qualifying matches for the first time in 2018 and has hosted twice more since, including in April of this year.
“When I was here last time, I thought, ‘Wow, we should have all of them here,'” King said at a press conference before this year’s matches. “You guys show up. Show up and speak out. You guys show up; showing up is really important.”
According to the commission’s annual report, April’s BJK Cup event led to nearly $1.7 million of spending in the local economy, the SoCon basketball championships brought $5.8 million, the Beer City Cup adult soccer tournament brought $3 million and the Asheville Championship early-season men’s college basketball tournament brought $2.3 million.
Other big events include USA cycling national championships and the Great Smoky Mountain Grapple high school wrestling tournament.
“There are discussions about the negative and positive impacts of tourism, but as the events come into town, one, it allows a quality of life for our citizens,” Bradford said. “The other thing is, the community component.”
The commission coordinates events that connect the participants with the local community, Bradford said, such as an adaptive tennis event for people with intellectual disabilities held during the week of BJK Cup.
He also believes the work of the sports commission helps attract businesses that are considering operating in Asheville.
In order to keep having those opportunities, Bradford said, the region must focus on creating and upgrading venues. The Cherokee Center, for example, has been updated significantly in the past decade but needs further work in areas such as the locker rooms. UNC Asheville’s athletic facilities, Bradford feels, are underutilized by the community as a whole.
“Our only limitation are our facilities,” Bradford said. “Buncombe County, there’s not a lot of flatland. That’s a premium. I think one of the things moving forward is partnering with some of our surrounding counties like Henderson, who are looking to build.”
The pandemic halted and slowed some construction plans, Bradford said, but that backlog should be worked through in upcoming years. With that possibility on the horizon, enthusiastic residents and supportive community leaders, Bradford believes Asheville can continue to grow and attract larger events from across the sporting landscape.
He’ll be watching from afar, however, having announced his plans to return to Greensboro as vice president of the Greensboro Sports Foundation at the end of this month. His successor has not been publicly named.
“The leadership and the volunteerism and the desire to continue to promote Asheville will continue to make it thrive,” Bradford said. “I look forward to coming back and seeing events and watching the development, because I did that for six years. I watched it. … Asheville will continue to grow.”