There’s the history, the scenic views and a countless number of family-friendly activities. For Ernest Carter and Billy Russo, the focus is on yet another reason—sports.
Carter and Russo are the co-founders of Central Virginia Sports and CentralVASports.com
. The company, based out of Lynchburg, was launched in March with the goal of bringing awareness to the large amount of sports business that takes place in the region which includes Amherst, Appomattox, Campbell and Bedford Counties.
“We started this because we recognized a tremendous amount of sports business taking place in our region that most people were not aware of and its impact,” Russo said. “We saw a need to bring awareness and use our experience, connections, ideas and passion for sports to impact our community.”
Russo, who serves as the vice president for Central Virginia Sports, says that he and Carter, the president, started to brainstorm the idea in 2015 while Carter was working as the external event coordinator of athletics at Liberty University. At the time, Russo was the executive director of the Smith River Sports Complex in Martinsville and a member of the Virginia Commonwealth Games’ board of directors.
Carter left Liberty in February and asked Russo to be a part of what was the beginnings of Central Virginia Sports.
“We started with CentralVASports.com because what we found in discussions with hotels, restaurants and the general public was a need for a central place for all things sports events in the region,” Russo said.
According to Russo, the site is the first of its kind in the region and is currently a catch-all of sports development and services.
The business is currently focusing on three objectives: sports advocacy and awareness, sports marketing and promotion, and event services.
“Our ultimate goal is to be an added economic catalyst and improve community vitality through world class service,” Russo said. “Our region is doing a tremendous amount of sports business that many people are unaware of and we plan on tracking that business and bringing the awareness and support to the forefront while using the information for future sport development in regards to programming and facilities.”
He added that the site is just one of a number of steps, and that a September or October date is planned for a full launch of the business. If all goes according to plan, Russo says he’s hoping to make an announcement regarding the first events in the beginning of 2019.
“Our goal is to create events that are unique to the area as well as expand events that are already hosted here,” he said.
Russo says that the business has already been in talks with six area colleges and universities, four of which have NCAA intercollegiate athletic programs, regarding how they can best partner with and support the schools.
“These institutions’ athletic programs and events have a tremendous impact on the local businesses and economy that is seldom measured, tracked or cultivated, he said. “We plan on helping to make local businesses aware of this and cultivating support and excitement around this culture to help its growth.” Ultimately, Russo says that the business is young and still developing, but he sees a bright future ahead.
“The business is still very new and it’s a unique model, the likes of which our community has never seen before,” he said. “We have our minds open to new business ideas that help accomplish our mission and look forward to uncovering more needs and ideas that we can assist with in the future. This is only the beginning.”