Jim Folk, Vice President of Ballpark Improvement for the Cleveland Guardians, announced the 2023 National Sports Safety Conference in San Antonio, to be held on June 27-29. The event is hosted annually by the National Sports Spectator Safety Center (NCS⁴) at the University of Southern Mississippi. At the conference, the Milton E. Ahlerich Distinguished Leadership Award will be presented to professionals with multiple accomplishments and contributions to safety and security in sport. This prestigious honor is awarded by a panel of subject matter experts representing the NCS⁴.
Folk received the Milton E. Ahlerich Distinguished Leadership Award at the Safety and Security Conference & Exhibition. He is recognized for his work promoting safe operation of venues and his contribution to designing and constructing ballparks. The award will be presented at the Annual Awards Luncheon during the second day of the conference.
Folk’s career began in operations and facilities management in 1979 with the Chicago White Sox at the former Comiskey Park. He spent 10 years with the Sox and worked as an assistant ballpark operations director for 5 years before joining the Cleveland Guardians in 1992. He oversaw all operational aspects of the 43,000-seat ballpark and was heavily involved in the design and construction activities of the ballpark. Since joining the Guardians, he has played in two Major League Baseball All-Star games, three World Series, and overseen postseason home games.
The National Sports Safety and Security Conference and Exhibit will be held at the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort and Spa in San Antonio, Texas. The conference will feature over 450 attendees representing professional sports and entertainment venues, marathon and endurance events, and those who provide safety and security products and services to the industry.
Established in 2006, the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS⁴) is the only academic center in the country dedicated to sports safety and security research and practice. NCS⁴’s mission focuses on its three main pillars: training and education, research, and outreach. The center is partially funded by grants from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).