Field Of Dreams

Batter Up

After participating in a Triple Crown Sports softball league for 10 years and running a few fund-raising tournaments, Grant Stanis knew a little something about softball events. For Stanis, owner of his own computer consulting business, business and pleasure formed a perfect match when he discovered that Triple Crown Sports, a sports event company based in Fort Collins, Colorado, was franchising.

"I knew Triple Crown had an established product here on Long Island," says Stanis, 33, whose territory covers part of New York and Connecticut. "I knew if I could come in and [build on] what they'd already built, it could be a very lucrative business." Stanis bought a franchise in Long Island last December to run in addition to his consulting business; he staged his first event in February.

Dave and Annette King founded Triple Crown Sports in 1982 out of a love of softball. "For five years, we ran the business strictly [so we could] play in high-end tournaments for the weekend warrior, the amateur adult athlete," explains Dave. The Kings gradually added other sports to their roster: youth baseball, girls' fast-pitch softball and in-line hockey, with plans in the works to add basketball and soccer as well. In 1997, they started franchising the territories they currently have in 35 states.

Although Triple Crown Sports' events run seasonally, time management is still of the essence. "My events run from February through August," says Stanis. "From September through October, I'm trying to sell sponsorships. In December, we're preparing for our off-season mailing that tells our teams the schedule for next year. So although there's downtime in [terms of] events, there's really no downtime in the workload." Stanis attends each event, oversees merchandise sales and gathers customer feedback from the players. "It's important that I have a presence because it's my product I'm giving to these people. I'm always interested in feedback, both good and bad. Without bad feedback, you can't build a stronger event."

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This article was originally published in the July 1999 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Field Of Dreams.

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