June 2, 2023 3:18 pm

APPLETON, Wis. — The Red Smith Sports Awards Banquet has been one particular of the most well-liked events in the Fox Valley and about Wisconsin for 57 straight years.

This year, it is not on the calendar.

What You Need to have To Know

  • Soon after 57 consecutive years, the Red Smith Sports Award Banquet has place its occasion on hold
  • COVID, declining attendance, a date and venue modify have been elements that led to this choice
  • Banquet officials mentioned they are hoping to return in 2024

“We will not be obtaining a 2023 banquet,” Paul McCann, president of the Red Smith Committee, mentioned. “We are seeking ahead to 2024 in hopes that we can rebuild the enthusiasm that has constantly followed the 57-year tradition of the banquet.

“We hope to be capable to get everyone back collectively actual quickly. I wouldn’t guarantee a 2024 banquet, but if we see the demand, that would be our aim.”

Declining attendance, COVID, moving the banquet from January to April and switching venues all factored into this choice, McCann mentioned.

“The 2022 banquet was not financially productive,” mentioned McCann, who noted it lost $20,000. “It was poorly attended. Ticket sales have been down, instant post-COVID. So, we have been not capable to raise sufficient income for the grants that we have been accustomed to providing away. That is our tradition. Give away at least $30,000 a year. We will nevertheless do that from our Red Smith Fund at the (Neighborhood Foundation for the Fox Valley Area), a fund that was established just for this precise occasion if for some explanation the banquet couldn’t be held.”

By way of the years, the occasion has featured hall of famers from every single big sport, Heisman Trophy winners, baseball commissioners, Indy 500 winners, big golf champions, renowned authors, writers and effectively-identified tv sports personalities. Final year’s banquet featured Pro Basketball Hall of Fame member Bill Walton, NFL Hall of Famer LeRoy Butler and the 2018 gold-medal-winning U.S. Olympic Curling group.

Bob Costas at the Red Smith Sports Awards Banquet. (Photo Courtesy: Red Smith Sports Awards Banquet by means of Facebook)

Regardless of final year’s lineup, McCann mentioned the banquet drew only 500 fans. Commonly, attendance is amongst 1,000 and 1,500.

“We’re going to devote 2023 figuring out approaches to reconnect with our audience with the historical content material we have,” McCann mentioned. “Focus on youth sports in the region making use of our brand to give some consideration to youth sports. And ideally be prepared and get sufficient interest and traction to have a 2024 banquet.”

Aspect of the program to reconnect will be a Red Smith podcast, along with YouTube spinoffs, from the banquet’s storied history.

“We created a choice to do a public awareness type of factor,” he mentioned. “We have so a lot content material from the 57 years of star energy brought in. Use the historic content material we have to create back interest in our audience.”

The banquet has offered more than $1 million to nearby youth sports organizations more than the years. That contains the initial $500 in 1965 to the Appleton Foxes — who these days are the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, a minor-league group of the Milwaukee Brewers — to support retain them stay financially steady.


Story notion? You can attain Mike Woods at 920-246-6321 or at: michael.t.woods1@charter.com

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