Mark O’Brien says his decades in sports management and corporate marketing experience are combining to help him make LakePoint Sporting Community even more successful than its busy schedule already shows it is.
O’Brien began work as president and CEO of the 1,300-acre multi-sports complex near I-75 in Emerson April 18.
He said his goal is to make the five-year-old complex “the premier youth sports” destination in the Southeast.
O’Brien also hopes to help determine and build on the various factors that comprise the public’s overall experience at the complex, and create more relationships with other sports organizations in the metro Atlanta region.
The Wisconsin native’s sports management experience includes several years in minor league baseball, which led to a stint as a general manager for a team in Texas; and assisting with the Houston Rockets NBA team’s brand partnerships.
He has also served in leadership roles in both the corporate and nonprofit sectors, including Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and The Original Honey Baked Ham Co., among others.
LakePoint already offers playing fields with artificial turf, and the Champions Center, which makes it a year-round facility, he said. O’Brien noted LakePoint has facilities that can accommodate up to 32 different sports.
“The combination of the entire campus allows me to bundle (his experience) all together,” he said.
He said he learned to focus on the “guest experience” during his years in pro baseball in the 1990s.
O’Brien also said he found that building relationships was important, as well as “being responsible in how we’re going to relate to the community.”
In his first week on the job at LakePoint, Nike hosted one of its three national Elite Youth Basketball League sessions which brought a “massive turnout” of youth travel basketball teams to LakePoint’s 170,000-square-foot Champions Center.
Then, on May 3 to 5, LakePoint’s eight baseball fields hosted the Travel Ball Select Georgia State Championships for 9- through 14-year-old players.
He is leading LakePoint at a pivotal time in its five-year existence.
The complex is a public-private venture that opened in 2014. It hosted more than 1.25 million visitor days and generated nearly $100 million in economic activity for the region in 2018, said current owner Rimrock Capital in a news release.
Rimrock invested nearly $8 million into LakePoint in 2018, which led to 10 percent overall growth, the company said in a recent news release.
Facilities it owns include eight Major League-sized baseball fields; three multi-use fields for soccer, lacrosse and football; a water sports facility featuring cable sports such as wakeboarding; and a sand volleyball facility.
The investment helped convince the state government to begin construction of a $29 million road and bridge project which could connect to land LakePoint plans for future development as a northern campus, the company said.
The Champions Center has 12 basketball courts that can convert to 24 volleyball courts, as well as meeting rooms and a food court.
LakePoint manages it for its owner, the Cartersville-Bartow County Joint Development Authority, which issued $36 million in bonds to build it in 2015.
“There’s investment across the spectrum,” O’Brien said, in reference to LakePoint. “We’re working on behalf of the region.”
He said LakePoint officials are “listening to our guests” to determine if they will add more facilities for sports they now offer or could offer in the future on the north campus. They are also considering if some sports should be removed from its offerings, he said.
However, he said there was “no time horizon, per se” on future development. All sports are “on the table” for consideration but LakePoint owners want “responsible growth,” he said.
“We want to look at the right amenities,” he said. “What’s important to the guests.”