Panel Discussion: Infrastructure and Financing in Sport
K. Švigir, Croatian Ice Hockey Federation; T. Čater Ph.D., University of Ljubljana, School of Business and Economics; B. Vračević, Erste Bank; moderated by M. Vučković, Karanovic & Partners
The panel discussion included participants with different backgrounds and experiences: K. Švigir (IHF Croatia) who recently secured investment for building a new ice rink in a coastal city in Croatia, T. Čater (School of Business and Economics) who is a former athlete and professor of Sports Management, and B. Vračević as a representative of a Bank, which is a general sponsor of the most highly rated league in CEE Region – the professional EBEL league.
In the spotlight of the discussion were infrastructure and financing in sports. It was emphasized how important it is for a sports team to have a longer history and tradition before approaching the possible sponsors with their request for financial support. It is also important for the team to have the right answer to why the sponsors should invest their finances in the team. Professor Čater argued that all projects, regardless of the size of the organization or how well the sport is developed in the country, are considered unsustainable from a solely economic point of view. Consequently, it is important to know how to combine strict economic criteria with milder economic criteria in order to justify the execution of the projects. The representative from Croatian Ice Hockey Federation shared his experience in building a sustainable project for a new club in the city of Zadar.
At the end of the debate, the panelists were joined by Mr. A. Mrkva from the audience. He shared experiences from the Bosnian Ice Hockey Federation about how they’ve managed to build a profitable ice rink in the City of Sarajevo (Bosnia & Herzegovina) and the challenges they faced. Perhaps the key takeaway from his experience was that besides focusing on building a rink that is efficient (low operating costs) during the building stage they are now focused on building an ice skating culture and getting as many people as possible to the rink before they enroll them into ice hockey programs.