Lacey City Council expressed support Thursday for the creation of a sports commission, a potential new organization that might market the city’s sports venues, such as the Regional Athletic Complex, or work to bring a minor league sports team to the area.
But Councilman Lenny Greenstein had some strong words for Mayor Andy Ryder after the mayor outlined the proposal during Thursday’s work session, saying the idea should have come to the council before it was shared with the Lacey South Sound Chamber of Commerce.
Ryder said he recently met with the lodging tax advisory committee and Lacey-based hoteliers, who queried him on whether the city was taking full advantage of sports business opportunities. Then Ryder, along with City Manager Scott Spence, reached out to the chamber as a possible sports commission partner.
Once the word was out, it spread quickly.
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Greenstein, who sits on the Olympia Lacey Tumwater Visitor & Convention Bureau board, said he received a call from a VCB official asking whether he was aware of the sports commission idea. It was the first he had heard of it, and he said he was embarrassed he didn’t know. He supports the proposal but took issue with the mayor’s approach.
“We are a council of seven, the mayor is one of seven,” Greenstein told Ryder. “Action outside of this council was inappropriate, and it should not have happened.”
“This went to the chamber far too soon,” he said. “It should have come to the council first.”
Ryder apologized and acknowledged that the proposal had moved quickly — so fast, in fact, that sports business consultant Troy Kirby, on his own initiative, created a hard-copy “sports commission proposal” that he distributed to the council Thursday.
Kirby, 41, who has recently returned to Lacey to be closer to family, was previously the director of ticket operations at the University of California in Davis. He graduated from Timberline High School in 1994 and later earned a graduate degree in sports administration from Seattle University.
During Thursday’s meeting, Deputy Mayor Cynthia Pratt wanted a better idea of what exactly a sports commission would do.
After the meeting, Kirby said the commission might better evaluate the sports complex known as the RAC. He sees it as an undervalued amenity that the commission could bring more value to, he said.
“I have an owner that wants to bring a hockey team or a baseball team (to Lacey) and another owner who wants to bring an NBA Development League team,” Kirby told the council.