SneakerBall Attendance and Fund-Raising Dollars Dip, Earthquake Affects Event Layout

By D. Channing Muller September 16, 2011, 9:10 AM EDT

Photo: BizBash

8th Annual SneakerBall
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Local athletes and Washingtonians once again donned their black-tie best with sneakers on Tuesday night, for the Greater Washington Sports Alliance’s eighth annual SneakerBall. The gala experienced a drop in attendance to 600, down from 800 last year, and overall fund-raising dollars, bringing in $500,000, nearly $100,000 less than 2010. The organization credits the declines to residual effects of the recession.

“Last year we managed to have a year off [from economic effects] and continue to grow in the same direction as the previous year, but we started to feel the economic downfall this year,” said manager of special events and initiatives Daniella Levy. “We had fewer number of sponsors overall, but some did come in at higher levels.” Capital One, SunTrust, Red Bull, and Morgan Franklin were among the returning sponsors.

The event returned to the National Building Museum, though grappled with last-minute layout changes due to the earthquake a few weeks ago, which caused damage to the venue and delayed clearance for lighting rigging. The equipment restrictions forced organizers to move the main stage and rethink the lighting scheme. Atmosphere Lighting set up its spotlights on the second floor of the museum across the grand atrium. Blue and orange uplights around the columns of the main space added ambience on the ground level, where dinner took place.

The dinner program once again include the awarding of the Sportsman of the Year—this time to Washington Redskins’ tight end Chris Cooley—the Joseph E. Robert Community Impact Award (which went to philanthropist Leah Gansler), and the Greater Washington Sports Hall of Fame Championship, which honored former Redskins left defensive end Charles Mann. Organizers forwent the awarding of the SneakerBall Fan Choice Award as a result of the N.F.L. and N.B.A. lockouts earlier this year. “Last year the award was a great segment of the event, but [the lockouts] made it a bit difficult to reach the teams at that point [in planning] and have them nominate players,” said Levy.

Following the dinner, guests retreated to the third section of the atrium for dessert, gaming, and dancing. An additional 100 guests who purchased the $125 after-party ticket joined the party for foosball, basketball, and air hockey, among other games. DJ Benny C hit the Red Bull turntables until nearly 1 a.m.

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