Written by Adedammy Adedotun
On November 24, 2018, scores of influential people in the country gathered at the official dedication of the 100,000 capacity worship auditorium of the Dunamis International Christian Centre in Abuja. The auditorium named Glory Dome, which is believed to be the largest auditorium in the world was built in less than four years.
Reactions have trailed the dedication of this architectural masterpiece, the most interesting being from sports enthusiasts as they compared the Dome to the world’s largest sports facilities - Barcelona’s Camp Nou 99,354, Mercedes Benz Stadium 83,000, Real Madrid Santiago de Bernabéu 81,044.
When it comes to sports development in Nigeria, a large number of enthusiasts believe the buck falls on the Government, so the FG being called out to take a cue from the church was expected.
Considering the church`s commitment and consistency in their infrastructure development across the country - RCCG, Winners’ Chapel, Mountain of Fire Ministries, Deeper Life Church, TREM, The Apostolic Church all have fascinating structures - we need to pay attention to their model.
So, yes, sports administrator need to take a cue from the church.
1. Vision and long-term planning - Most churches start from small temporary locations - apartments, houses, shops, restaurants, etc. but the goal is always to grow enough to move to a permanent bigger structure and this vision is shared with the congregation right from the beginning. The ultimate goal for any ministry is to have its own gigantic auditorium. The is probably where the popular phrase “the ministry is moving the permanent site” came from.
Not only is the vision shared, but it’s also usually a very big dream and there’s an actionable plan towards achieving that goal. A design of the dream church is placed somewhere in the church with a target amount.
When President of the San Francisco 49ers Al Guido was interviewed by Barry Ritholtz in the Bloomberg’s Master in Business Podcast, he mentioned that infrastructure (new or renovated) is the backbone of any sports franchise. Al Guido himself has been part of two big facilities - Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium and the 49ers Levi’s Stadium.
The church understands this very well and I think sports administrators need to too.
The AT&T Stadium
2. The congregation and a shared responsibility - For every church, there is a direct relationship between the size of the congregation and the funds generated either through donations, tithe, first fruits, seed etc. The priority for the church, therefore, is to expand and to grow the congregation and get the congregation to be involved in the making the dream of building an auditorium come true through financial and professional support amongst others.
Dr Paul Enenche boastfully stated that the multi-billion Naira Glory Dome was built by his ministry debt free “We didn’t borrow any money from individuals or take a bank loan for this project. We are owing nobody who is either dead or alive to the glory of God.”
If the church understands the role the congregation plays in infrastructure development, sports administrators should understand that about fans too. Grow your fan base, improve on the fan experience, charge them a fee for the experience and you will have a solid financial foundation.
3. Community and a host of activities - When you have an auditorium of that magnitude, what do you do? You make sure there are enough activities and events to keep people coming to the auditorium. The more people visit the facility, the more concession stands are needed to cater to their needs and the more revenue is generated from the concession stands.
From weddings, midweek services, conventions, faith clinics, masses, meetings, seminars and other special events, the church are masters in the game.
In addition to concession stands, sports facilities can charge a fee for the other activities. The 49ers Levi Stadium has a number of restaurants, a museum, a theatre, an education centre, an art gallery, numerous halls, and conference rooms.
The museum in Levi`s Stadium
As much as people clamour for Federal Government to invest in stadiums and arenas for national team usage and grassroots development, sports franchises - regardless of ownership - who participate in top flight leagues in the country - football and basketball - are more suitable to take full advantage of the lessons highlighted at above.
It will not be easy and it surely would not happen overnight but for it to happen at all, we need to start and we need to start now.