Do You Have What It Takes To Run a Big Sports Contest?

Maryland NPC Chair Rich Siegelman gives us the lowdown on the hours and investment it takes to stage Maryland’s three big contests this year. //

When more than 1,000 bodybuilding fans show up this Saturday outside Baltimore’s Goucher Auditorium to watch the 2012 NPC Met-Rx Maryland State /East Coast Classic Championships, over 250 competitors will already be back stage, prepping, almost assuredly nervously, for the full day and night of prejudging and finals that will determine their competitive fates. The man to thank for shining a klieg light on Maryland physiques? Rich Siegelman, the Maryland Chairman of the prestigious National Physique Committee (NPC), the premier amateur federation in the world for bodybuilding, physique, figure, fitness and bikini competitors. Siegelman, an astute entrepreneur and an IFBB pro bodybuilder in his own right, wasn’t satisfied with just one successful show this year. He’s poised to deliver two more brand new contests to Maryland in 2012:

  • The 2012 NPC Jay Cutler Baltimore Classic, August 25 (a national qualifier)
  • The 2012 NPC Shawn Ray / Baltimore/ Washington Grand Prix, October 27

We caught up with Siegelman, who also runs a successful personal training and coaching business, as he put his final touch on the hundreds of decisions and details that make the Met-RX Championships successful. We wanted to ask him what makes a successful and a profitable contest, what investment is necessary and what would-be contest producers need to think about (for those of you who may be contemplating producing your own sports contests).

 

Rich (middle) with 4x Mr. Olympia Jay Cutler (left) IFBB Pro Shawn Ray (right)

Here’s what the nine-time winning bodybuilding pro and retired Maryland police officer had to say about creating successful physique contests:

TUA: After a relatively long and very successful bodybuilding career, what made you want to take over the reins of the Maryland NPC and bring not only one, but now this year, three major bodybuilding contests to the state?

Rich Siegelman: I competed all through the 80s and then I stepped away and was a police officer for 20 years and retired in 2004. That’s when I was bitten by the bodybuilding bug again. In 2004, when I started competing again, one of my goals was to chair the Maryland NPC. When NPC executives Gary Udit and Jim Manion gave me the opportunity at end of 2006, I didn’t hesitate. I took it.

Some of the shows I competed in were incredible and some were a little lackluster. Has a lot to do with promoters themselves and the sponsors they get.  I always wanted to give back to competitors what I wanted when I competed. The national level shows were the biggest and best, so I thought why not give this quality show to competitors in regional and state level shows. I’d been in the industry so long, I knew a lot of sponsors and that’s helped me tremendously. One of the best is Teresa Hartle at Met-Rx. She took me under her wing and brought me on board as a sponsored athlete in 2008 and has been helping me and the contest ever since. (The company is the premier sponsor of the Maryland show as the name indicates: Met-Rx Maryland State/East Coast Classic Championships.) Knowing sponsors has helped a lot.

TUA: What skills does it take to run a successful and profitable contest?

Siegelman: It’s really such a learning experience. Every year you always learn something new. When I first took over, my partner at the time was Scot Engle, who has since stepped down. We had the basics right that first time in 2008, but it was a learning process. As you learn and fine-tune, the show gets better.

TUA: What investment does a good show require? Do folks need a lot of financial backing to bring a show to their state?

Siegelman: Yes and no. It depends on what caliber show you want to produce. You can put a show together at a fairly good high school auditorium and showcase a number of good competitors for a relatively small budget. To produce a bigger show, it takes some financial sponsors and vendors who want to showcase their products and are willing to invest. More than the financial investment though, it’s a huge time investment. I’m running around and working constantly. My work week is literally 60 to 80 hours. I’m up at 4am and fall asleep in front of the TV at 11pm most nights. I still train a slew of clients, plus high school, college and pro athletes and the planning and implementation for these shows takes 12 months out of the year. The Maryland 2012 hasn’t even taken place and I’m working on Maryland 2013 already.

TUA: Is this a lucrative endeavor? Can you do this full time now?

Siegelman:  This could be lucrative full-time, but I still run my training company, as well.

TUA: What would you tell people about getting started? Don’t quit your day job?

Siegelman: No, don’t quit your day job. I happen to be lucky. I retired as a police officer so I had the time to compete, be chairman and promote shows. I’d say: Start out with a contest as a side type thing if you’re smart. You put good shows together. First few years you’re looking at taking a loss or breaking even. You start on the ground floor and put in the work. When we first started, we had 60 competitors in a high school auditorium.  Now I have a 1,200 seat venue with a 25 booth expo hall and more than 200 competitors.

TUA: Just so people know, how do you make money on a contest like this or at least ensure you break even?

Siegelman: Vendors’ fees, ticket prices and competitors’ registration fees. You always start upside down. The first year we had a small show and we put in a lot of our own money. The next year, we broke even. It gets better every year, but the first year, you’ll probably have to ante up some funds.  Now I have vendors that come from up and down the East Coast, like S&D Sportswear, out of NY.

Rich Siegelman Emcee at the Maryland NPC / Photo By Jules Clifford

 

TUA: What are ticket prices this year for all three shows?

Siegelman: $25 for prejudging and $45 for the evening finals.

TUA: What’s the most rewarding thing about being Maryland’s NPC chair and producing these vital contests?

Siegelman: The most rewarding thing is to see the satisfaction I get from the competitors and the audience. And the smile on competitors’ faces, when they come up and say: “You put on a great show Rich, thank you!”

TUA: What’s next for you here in Maryland or nationwide?

Siegelman: Next, I’m not sure. Right now it’s the three shows…..and training my clients. My son is 16 years old. He’s a good pitching prospect at his high school. I played baseball in high school and junior college. So I’m coaching his high school team. I do a little of everything. And I want to make sure these new shows are every bit as successful as the Maryland. Jay Cutler and Shawn Ray are huge names in bodybuilding. We already have competitors registering for the shows. We want to make everyone proud.

For details on the Maryland NPC’s shows or to compete, visit www.marylandnpc.com. TheUrbanAthletica.com’s own Director of Photography Mike Cadotte has been appointed the official photographer of all three Maryland NPC contests.