Rights Holder Spotlight, Christian Dempster, IMG
What is your title and how long have you held the position with the Action Sports division of IMG?
I’ve been on contract with IMG for over 10 years. I started out as an Operations Manager, but quickly moved into my current role as Event Director.
What events and locations are you directly managing?
During my tenure with IMG, I’ve had the opportunity to be part of numerous properties. Everything from launching The Color Run internationally in countries like Canada, Japan, and Korea, to overseeing the production of the Prudential 4.01K Race for Retirement in Washington DC.
Currently I oversee the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon and the SBD World’s Strongest Man. Obviously, the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon takes place in San Francisco, CA. However, the SBD World’s Strongest Man changes locations every couple of years. Most recently we produced the event in Sacramento, CA.
What led you to event management?
Honestly, I kind of fell into it. I always wanted to be in sports, and I thought coaching was going to be that route. However, while getting my Masters in Sports Management at the University of San Francisco I was lucky enough to land an internship with the Super Bowl 37 Host Committee in San Diego, CA. After completing that role, I was offered a role with the San Diego International Sports Council overseeing event bidding and production and the rest in history.
How are you working with your partners to grow the offerings of these various events (concessions, Wi-Fi, more corporate events, festivals, etc.)?
Ironically, we just had a very successful launch of the ticketed VIP Experience at the World’s Strongest Man this year. When I first joined the WSM team, there was no elevated experience offering for consumers and I felt that was a missed opportunity. It took a couple years due to COVID, but we were finally able to put the program in place and it was a tremendous success.
What benchmarks are in place when reviewing an event’s success?
There are always financial goals tied to each property, we all have bills to pay. However, depending on the property, there are other metrics used to gauge success (i.e., growth of the event/property YoY).
How often do events under your management go out for bid?
It really depends on what new properties come into the Action Sports division, but currently the SBD World’s Strongest Man is the only property I work on that goes out for bid.
Are there any expansion plans for IMG’s Action Sports division, any additional event acquisitions in discussion?
IMG Action Sports is always looking to grow and add new properties to its portfolio, either via creation or acquisition.
What have been your biggest challenges thus far in 2022?
Simple, in-between on COVID. All of us are unsure on what’s going to happen, what’s not going to happen, what are the protocols from each municipality? A lot has changed; for example, we’ve seen the cost of steel go up significantly on scaffolding and trusses. We face unforeseeable, on the spot changes that create challenges on each event.
What’s the feeling that you want athletes and spectators to take away from visiting and competing at IMG events?
The great part of events for me is building something from the ground up, having athletes, family, and fans enjoy their experience with you so much that they share it with you and say that they look forward to seeing you again next year, and then breaking it all down.
It will never be perfect, but striving to make sure those who come to our events leave with great memories that last them a lifetime, that’s my goal.
Getting to know Christian
Where would you most like to live?
I really enjoy living in Southern California, but wherever the journey takes me.
What’s the most prized possession you have in your office?
There are so many pieces with strong sentimental value, it’s hard to choose just one.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work, what are your hobbies?
Enjoy spending time with family and friends, and when time allows playing 18 holes.
What is your favorite sporting event annually?
Masters, US Open of Golf, and Super Bowl.