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Palmer awarded Florida Sports Foundation Larry Pendleton Award

May 22, 2024 - The Annual Florida Sports Foundation Summit brings together the state’s sports tourism industry leaders to share ideas and present their individual areas to prospective event rights holders in hopes of luring future sports events to their communities.

The 2024 Summit, held in Panama City Beach, featured one of the most-anticipated events of the three-day gathering, the Larry Pendleton Awards Dinner.

The dinner salutes the Florida Sports Foundation’s founder and president from 1992-2012 and recognizes the achievements of more than 30 industry partners statewide, and individuals within the partnerships, for their efforts over the previous year.

The awards to the partners are broken down into three categories; Small Market, Mid-Size Market and Large Market.  Nominations are gathered by the Florida Sports Foundation staff from each individual partner.

The individual awards recognize sports industry professionals for their efforts within their local communities.  The Annual Larry Pendleton Award (pictured above with Angela Suggs, FSF President/CEO, Award Winner, Ray Palmer, Pensacola Sports and Larry Pendleton) salutes a sports industry professional for their career in promoting Florida as the nation’s top sports tourism destination.

The Larry Pendleton Awards Dinner was held Tuesday, May 21, at the Embassy Suites by Hilton at Panama City Beach Resort.

Best Awarded Event of the Year
Small Market
Gainesville Sports Commission
World Masters Athletics Indoor Championships 2025

Mid-Sized Market
Ocala / Marion County Visitors and Convention Bureau
College Swimming and Diving Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) National Invitational Championships (2024-2027)

Large Market
Visit St. Pete – Clearwater
World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) Royal Rumble

Florida’s Event of the Year
Small Market
Florida Sports Coast: Pasco County
Tampa Bay Christmas Basketball Invitational

Mid-Sized Market
Daytona Beach Area Convention and Visitors Bureau
National Cheerleaders Association (NCA)/ National Dance Alliance (NDA) College Nationals

Large Market
Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau
Serie Del Caribe Miami 2024 (Caribbean Club Baseball)

Florida’s Venue of the Year
Small Market
Play Treasure Coast Sports Tourism
Lawnwood Sports Complex

Mid-Sized Market
Visit Panama City Beach
Publix Sports Park

Large Market
Greater Orlando Sports Commission
Camping World Stadium

Individual Awards
Florida’s Emerging Professional of the Year 2024
Terry Parks
Space Coast Sports Commission

Florida’s Professional of the Year 2024
Consuelo Sanchez
Florida Sports Coast: Pasco County

Florida’s Most Valuable Partner (MVP)
Juanita “Lightnin” Epton
Daytona International Speedway
Note: Ms. Epton passed away last week at the age of 104. She was still working at DIS. Her award was decided prior to her passing and was accepted by Brandon Little, Business Development Manager for the Daytona Sports Commission, in her honor and memory. 

Larry Pendleton Award 2024
Ray Palmer
Pensacola Sports

The Florida Sports Foundation, a 501(C) 3 non-profit corporation, is the official sports promotion and development organization for the State of Florida. It is charged with the promotion and development of professional, amateur, recreational sports, and physical fitness opportunities that produce a thriving Florida sports industry and environment. With a seemingly endless list of sporting ventures and venues, the Florida Sports Foundation strives to promote Florida’s unique sports industry. The Foundation’s staff is dedicated to serving the needs and interests of Florida’s sports community and assists with all questions concerning Florida sporting activities and issues.