Managing the Risks of Special Events

November 23, 2011

A New Online Course

Joe Risser CPCU, ARM-P
Risk Management Design
San Luis Obispo

Over the past few years, Special Events have transformed into a big issue for many Campus Recreation Administrators. Due to budget challenges, more and more departments are capitalizing on the potential to lease their multiple and diverse facilities – by renting to outside groups and/or staging or hosting their own events. This expansion in operations has been accompanied by the realization that running a large concert in the gym is quite different from organizing the Intramural Basketball Championship game!

Events can be ‘special’ based upon the content, participants, sponsors, venue, funding or other factors. These events may involve renting multiple fields to the city for a soccer tournament, hosting the University Graduation Ceremonies in the fieldhouse, or running a large fundraising dance in the arena. Special events are often beyond the scope of the University’s “day-to-day” activities, requiring exceptional efforts and resources. Critical to the management of events and the risks involved is ownership of the event and/or the venue.

Impacts on the normal operations of the Campus Recreation department, the outside community, and immediate ‘neighbors’ may be significant (or benign) and range from cancellation of gym space displacing regular user groups (e.g. Intramurals), to issues such as overflow parking onto neighborhood streets, amplified sound during outdoor events, and maybe even a surprise fireworks finale.

The University hosting its own special event or allowing the use of their facilities and services for the event of another party must do the most basic benefit analysis and ask the questions: “What is the purpose of the event?” and “Why are we doing this?” Will the costs (and risk of loss) outweigh the benefits of this Special Event? It is always wise to keep in mind that a ‘one-day’ event could cause damage or loss whose cleanup will requires months or years of protracted litigation, in addition to serious damage to the University’s reputation.

For Campus Recreation departments new to running larger special events (or significantly expanding their number and size), the planning or oversight of these complex operations can be quite daunting.

Fear not! A new online course on ‘Special Events’ has been developed to help you!

The online course will focus on a simple process and proven techniques and tools to help you assess and manage the complex risks involved in planning, organizing and running Special Events. While the course is aimed primarily at staff new to special event planning, seasoned planners will especially benefit from the hands-on exercises and audit tools included in the course.

To obtain more information or to register for the course, go to

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