Jul. 31, 2014 @ 11:02 PM

An exploratory committee has been established to probe the merits of creating an organization tasked, in part, with attracting sporting events to this city as a means of economic development, Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce president and chief executive officer Casey Steinbacher said.

“There is a lot of interest,” Steinbacher said. “We have formed a small task force to take a look at a potential structure, funding and functions. We are working on recommendations in each of those areas.”

Nothing is set in stone with regard to this would-be sports authority — it may or may not materialize, Steinbacher said.

But Durham Striders Track Club president Frank Davis Jr. said it’s been time for a sports authority in the Bull City.

“It needs to happen,” Davis said.

The Striders last month hosted — and won — The Russell E. Blunt East Coast Invitational at Durham County Memorial Stadium. It was an international track meet and was successful, Davis said.

But that track meet could have been even better, Davis said. As it is, those affiliated with the Striders do all of the setting up for and promotion of the Blunt meet. A Durham sports authority taking care of that heavy lifting would be such a galvanizing force, Davis said.

“We get it done, but it’s all on us,” Davis said. “We’re working with limited resources and volunteers.”

Cities such as Charlotte and Greensboro have been hosting sporting events that Durham could handle, Davis said. It translates into lots and lots of people staying in hotels and eating out and otherwise spending money while they’re in town — money that could be funneling into Durham, said.

“It could have a huge affect on the economy,” Davis said.

County Stadium has 8,500 seats. It could handle national competitions, Davis said.

Davis said he’s been around the country to national track meets that were held in facilities that don’t come close to what County Stadium has to offer.

A few tweaks would be in order before a national track meet comes to County Stadium, which needs a cage for hammer throwing, an additional circle for shot putting and one of those giant video boards, Davis said.

“If we had that, we’d be in the money,” Davis said.

That’s just talking track and field, Davis said. Other sports very likely would necessitate the construction of an arena, he said.