Vice President of the Indiana Sports Corporation, Susan Baughman was the Managing Director of the 2002 Men’s World Basketball Championship. She is responsible for planning and implementing international events organized by the Indiana Sports Corporation (ISC), including the 2004 FINA World Swimming Championship.
Indianapolis won the right to host the prestigious World Basketball Championship for Men in 1997, after a strenuous bid process that started first with winning the U.S. designation, and ended with a final bid competition with Tokyo, Japan, and Berlin, Germany.
ISC, USA Basketball (USAB), and the NBA joined together to submit the final bid on behalf of the city of Indianapolis and the United States. ISC and USAB also partnered to create the Local Organizing Committee to manage and organize the event.
With five years to plan the event, the first step was further researching the event requirements set forth by FIBA and deciding how to organize and manage the group of individuals who would eventually plan the World Basketball Championship for Men.
Throughout the planning process it was important for the local host to respect the event owner, FIBA, and to follow the specifications set forth by FIBA regarding the technical aspects of the Championship, as well as the marketing restrictions that were mandated.
Volunteerism played a large and important part in the overall success of our venture. ISC has a long and successful history using volunteers from the community to play powerful leadership roles in the organization and management of events such as the World Championship, Olympic Trials, and other national and international sporting competitions.
This strategy was again employed in the planning and execution of the World Basketball Championship. A 100-person volunteer committee comprised of individuals with corporate and community involvement and personal interest in the sport of basketball, was used to design all plans and implement them. To supplement the efforts of this committee and help with daily operations, a staff of 23 event professionals was employed. In addition, we had 1,800 volunteers, who offered their time and work during the event.
- In the end, the event was considered a huge success because we ended up meeting the trying to meet our three main objectives we had established for ourselves:
- Organize a technically perfect world championship
- Provide the athletes, spectators, viewers, and volunteers a unique experience, thus leaving a legacy to the sport worldwide
- Promote the city of Indianapolis to an international audience as a warm and welcoming place that embraces diversity and the confluence of cultures
Unfortunately, the financial outcome of the event fell short of what the organizers had projected because several key factors proved to be major obstacles to meeting our goals.
We attempted to meet all the requests of FIBA. All team hotels were located at a walking distance from the two arenas, keeping athletes from getting stuck in huge traffic jams. Each team had one host and one translator at their disposal all day. If an athlete or any member of a team delegation became ill or was injured or needed a special medical examination, our personnel stayed with the injured player at the hospital and assisted him until the problem was solved. We also implemented a special program for the NBA, as well as national and international scouts, Each NBA official or scout was provided with credentials and game-by-game statistical information. Our statistics service received glowing reports from the media and all of the teams.
Special invited guests were assisted from the time they arrived at the airport until they finally left Indianapolis. Each of these guests had a host at their complete disposition, as well as a chauffeur or a car for their personal use. VIP lodgings were in hotels that were within walking distance from the arenas and shopping malls, giving them more scheduling flexibility and free time. In addition, we offered a choice of 16 different excursions around town and the environs, from parks to museums. At the RCA Dome, an excellent hospitality room was set up.
The Championship was covered by nearly 1,000 media representatives (360 broadcasters). No less than 65 countries around the world provided TV coverage, including China, with its potential viewing audience of 800 million for the game against the United States. This game proved to be a huge success, and had the widest coverage of the entire World Basketball Championship. Working conditions were excellent for the journalists, with state-of-the-art technology in both arenas for the press corps.
A UNIQUE EXPERIENCE
We created more than just a basketball experience for all who attended the World Championship. Outside the basketball arena, the city of Indianapolis and the State on Indiana opened their arms to spectators, journalists, VIPs, and the athletes from around the world.
The Cultural Activities Committee was given the responsibility of developing, managing, and implementing offerings of arts, music, multicultural activities, and outreach to the local international community. The centerpiece project was a city-wide effort by the administrators of all city museums to produce a basketball-related exhibit leading up to and during the WBC.
YOUTH AND SCHOOL PROGRAMS
The School Programs Committee was in charge of creating a long-term participation program, which would allow primary and secondary school programs to include a creative way of teaching that would involve the 2002 World Basketball Championship.
The four components were: Adopt-a-Team, which paired each school district (for a total of 17 districts) with one team/country participating in the WBC; an art contest, where students were asked to interpret the WBC Theme “One Planet One Title” into a poster; Geography Bee, which was designed to make learning about the world culture fun for the students, adding a competitive approach with a District and final Metro Championship; and finally, a Sportsmanship Workshop, which stressed all the reasons for sportsmanship.
There were also a variety of ancillary events that involved the youth of the community in projects outside of the classroom. One that proved to be extremely popular was the Tip-Off Celebration, which had five dance and cheer squads assigned to one of the five FIBA Zones.
The Promotion Committee was formed to identify, develop and implement various activities to raise the interest in the community, bring awareness to the event, educate the public about FIBA and World Championship, enhance the spectator experience, and create a special specific look for the WBC. Here’s a snapshot of each major project:
Dribble & Dream Relay
The purpose of this event was to promote the World Championship, educate the community about FIBA, and allow to the communities across the state of Indiana to take ownership in the event. Similar to the popular Olympic Torch Relay, the event made stops in 17 communities around the state in the weeks leading up to the Tournament. The Relay culminated at the Tip-Off Celebration, with four celebrity dribblers, Larry Bird, Quinn Buckner, Oscar Robertson who represented the State of Indiana, and Oscar Schmidt, the famous Brazilian player, who represented the international basketball community.
The Tip-Off Celebration
One day before the Championship, August 28, the Tip-Off Celebration was held in a big square in Indianapolis consisting of the Opening Ceremony and the Roundball Rally, a free four-day fan festival that featured a multitude of entertainment options for the entire family, including a stage featuring ethnic and local music, basketball-oriented games, food and beverage vendors, WBC merchandise, and interactive activities.
OTHERS PROGRAMS OF NOTE
The Local Organizing Committee was extremely proud of the citywide “look” associated with the event. Basketballs were designed especially for each participating country and with its lavish basketball-theme decor throughout Indianapolis, the city seemed more cosmopolitan and vital.
To further develop the look of the event, extra attention was paid to the development of the Internet web site, merchandising, and the sale of logo items. The Local Organizing Committee also did a fantastic job in providing daily VIP programs and offering special tours and educational opportunities for future WBC site hosts.
The organizers believe that the World Basketball Championship brought enjoyment and a sense of civic pride to the citizens of Indianapolis and all basketball-loving Hoosiers. Although these intangible benefits are nearly impossible to calculate on a financial level, they are a powerful reason for a city to host as event such as the World Basketball Championship.