Catalyst Interview Series: Adam Watson
Knight Creative Communities Institute (KCCI): How did you hear about KCCI?
Adam Watson (AW): Primarily through marketing efforts and word of mouth. I read about it in the Democrat and heard from some prior Catalysts who enjoyed their experience.
KCCI: What led you to apply to be a KCCI Catalyst?
AW: After hearing a little about the process and seeing some of the previous groups in action, I realized that KCCI is something that can make a real, long-term impact. This is something that I knew that I wanted to be a part of.
KCCI: What was the mission behind Capital Sports Initiative?
AW: The mission behind Capital Sports Initiative (CSI) was to bring an indoor sport facility to Tallahassee – something that this area is lacking. The economic impact of sports tourism combined with Tallahassee’s location made the prospect of a multi-use indoor facility very desirable. This facility would host year-round sports like basketball, volleyball, gymnastics, wrestling, cheerleading, martial arts and more.
KCCI: How do sports play a role in creating a sense of place?
AW: Tallahassee is a very active community filled with avid runners, bikers, kayakers and hikers. We have a world-class parks and recreation system and a thriving youth and adult sports community. Sports create a variety of engagement opportunities for participants and spectators, and serve as an economic catalyst for the community. The indoor sport facility would also create a demand for retail and restaurants – increasing sense of place.
KCCI: I know a lot of research went into this project – can you tell me about the process of conducting the feasibility study?
AW: The feasibility study was the final step of our yearlong research process. Throughout the year, our team worked closely with the Tallahassee Sports Council, spoke with sports complex managers across the country, gained community input and reached out to local sports organization leaders. After this preliminary research, the feasibility study was approved and funded by the County Commission. The study focused on finding the impact of various sports facilities on the community, costs of construction and operation, and competition of such facilities in the area. It also looked at several hypothetical locations for such a complex. The final report indicated that, for our area, an indoor complex was far and away the most impactful facility we could bring to the area.
KCCI: Is there potential for an indoor sports complex in Tallahassee’s future?
AW: There definitely is. Based on our research, Tallahassee is uniquely situated to benefit from such a project. The implementation of this complex will involve a significant capital investment, and at the time of our study this was not economically feasible. Since the publication of the study, we have worked closely with a couple of firms to come up with a viable plan that would run at a fraction of that cost, but still be profitable and yield a large benefit to the community.
KCCI: What is the most valuable thing you learned from this project?
AW: I got to see up close how local government works through speaking with staff and commissioners. I also learned how to take a hypothetical situation and make it possible with real world parameters, limitations and obstacles. We haven’t reached our end goal yet, but that doesn’t mean we won’t. As a group, I think we were able to work cohesively and come together to commit to the highest and best end product possible.
KCCI: How has your work with KCCI impacted your personal or professional life?
AW: My KCCI experience has been very impactful to me personally, starting with the background training the KCCI staff does. I’ve called Tallahassee home since 2001, and I love this community. But, researching the Rise of the Creative Class and looking at what makes a city attractive and what creates a sense of place really helped me crystallize why Tallahassee is so special. Personally and professionally, I created lasting friendships with people I may never encountered otherwise, and expanded my network much more than I ever thought I might while working on a team of 8 people.
KCCI: What are some of your favorite places in Tallahassee?
AW: Tom Brown Park is a treasure; I don’t think a lot of people realize the incredible diversity that area offers. I love movies so the AMC is a favorite, though I miss the Miracle 5. I’d love to see another theatre come back that focuses on smaller, independent films. We also have an outstanding theatre community – my favorite place to see a show is Theatre Tallahassee. Finally, it’s a few miles out of town, but I enjoy kayaking on the Wacissa River. It is the perfect getaway.
KCCI: Who should apply to be a KCCI Catalyst?
AW: Anyone who is invested in Tallahassee and wants to help make a better and stronger community. Be on the lookout for a project that engages you personally, and commit to it. You won’t regret it.