Mark M. O’Brien took over as president and CEO of LakePoint Sports in April 2019 and will oversee an upcoming $39 million expansion at the north metro Atlanta youth travel sports destination.
O’Brien, who previously was president of Mizuno USA and chairman of Mizuno Canada, says the opportunity to lead LakePoint Sports is nearly a culmination of his entire career, “from minor league baseball, running events and branding for major brands and retail and work at Mizuno, this opportunity was all of it. It enabled me to leverage all my different experiences as we look at this growth stage.”
That growth stage was announced Oct. 24, 2019. Plans to extend road infrastructure at the 1,300-acre destination in Emerson, Georgia, will open another 500 acres to development, with plans for a $39 million, 200-room hotel set to open in early 2021.
The hotel will have a resort-style pool, food and beverage venues, and a rooftop terrace above the restaurant for athletes and family to gather.
This type of hotel is the No. 1 request of LakePoint athletes, families and coaches, O’Brien says. It will add to the entire 170,000-sq.-ft. Champions Center and campus as a whole.
LakePoint facilities include eight Major League-sized baseball fields, three multiuse fields for soccer, lacrosse and football, the Champions Center, which has 12 basketball courts that can convert into 24 volleyball courts, and other hotels, restaurants and entertainment venues.
O’Brien says when he took the job, he could see the potential for growth. “What got me excited was the commitment that is in place from the state, county, community and Rimrock Capital.”
Rimrock invested $8 million into LakePoint in 2018. That, in turn, led to the $29 million road-bridge project that will allow for the announced future development.
To gear up for the expansion, O’Brien has been adding more staff. He’s interested in developing and cultivating a culture that will provide guests and athletes lifelong memories and experiences, not just facilities on which to play.
LakePoint currently hosts over 30 sports on its campus, with seven core sports, but O’Brien sees there may be room for more, particularly in nontraditional sports. One way to do that is through technology, he says.
LakePoint recently began a partnership with PlaySight Interactive, a live-streaming video technology service. “That will help drive all of our live streaming and video-on-demand,” he says. “But we are looking at other ways to elevate our live-streaming capabilities so we provide more rich content for our athletes. That could be through additional data sorts or statistical information. That’s critical because it will provide a better guest experience all around for the coaches, athletes, scouts and family members.”
Technology is critical for today’s sports, including youth sports, O’Brien says. “It’s accessibility to video content, performance metrics and statistics. Technology is just part of our everyday lives now.”
Looking to the Future
As O’Brien moves LakePoint into the new decade, he wants to expand the guest experience.
“We want to be sure we maximize the opportunity to play on our fields, rather than just coming in and only having one game at the campus,” he says. “We didn’t feel like that was a good experience for our guests. We want them to have more time at LakePoint on the premium baseball fields, so that might mean monitoring the number of teams coming to LakePoint Sports to ensure they get the best experience possible.”
O’Brien sees a lot of momentum in the coming years. “We’re making investments on the north campus and on the south campus. We’re bringing on and investing in new team members. Every decision we are making is to provide and enhance that guest experience.”
And the way the growth is happening is through public-private partnerships, he adds.
“We’re working with the public and with great relationships with the county, state and city, but we are also investing ourselves,” O’Brien says. “This makes us special. We’re investing ourselves to make this successful.”