Florida Citrus Sports member Tony Martin is a self-professed “sports junkie” who also believes in “giving back to the community.”
With those two characteristics, becoming a member of FCS nearly 35 years ago was a no-brainer for Martin.
“FCS afforded me the opportunity to do both in one organization,” he said. “I started in 1982 and offered to do anything. I was assigned to a committee, then another, then I chaired virtually every committee at one time or another, became a member of the Board of Directors, then became President and finally Chairman of the Board. Now, I am a Past President and work with the FCS Foundation to help kids in our community have a better life.”
Martin came to Orlando in 1977 and it didn’t take him long to find his passion, both professionally and in the community. He has been engaged in some facet of real estate development since 1980 where he has served as President of Victoria Equities Realty and Management. Just two years later, he started his Florida Citrus Sports journey.
FCS “is one of the cornerstones of the community,” Martin said. “(It) is a national goodwill ambassador in sports. We are able to promote our community and our hospitality industry along with trying to make Central Florida a better place to live, work and play.”
Now semi-retired, Martin says he travels internationally a great deal these days. However, domestic travel – to college football games representing Florida Citrus Sports – are some of his greatest memories.
“The most fun I had as a member was going out and scouting college football games,” Martin said. “You get to represent a great organization and promote Central Florida at the same time.”
While volunteers are the backbone of an organization like Florida Citrus Sports, Martin said FCS wouldn’t be nearly as successful as it is without a great staff. That staff is headed by CEO Steve Hogan.
“I’ve known Steve and most of the senior staff since they were hired,” he said. “I have watched them all grow and mature to become the most dedicated professional group of businesspeople I know. FCS is a big business with lots of moving parts. Steve has grown immensely as a leader and is recognized nationally in the world of college football as one of the true movers and shakers. Our staff has great respect for our membership and vice versa. (The staff) always does what it takes to get the job done.”
Martin is most impressed with the staff during the final three months of the year, when bowl preparations reach a fever pitch.
“This group is working long hours, setting up for the bowl games,” Martin said. “Yet you never hear a complaint. They love this organization and this community.”
While Hogan gets a great deal of deserved credit, Martin is also quick to point out “two of Steve’s trusted lieutenants.”
“Carol Monroe and Shannon Clark are two rock stars,” he said. “They have grown up with this organization. Carol is well-known nationally throughout the world of college football. Shannon is the glue that keeps the members informed and operating smoothly as a team.”
With the perspective of more than three decades as a member, Martin gives the FCS staff and organization a ton of credit for helping accomplish the renovations to Camping World Stadium. The renovations allow the stadium to hold three major college football bowl games, the Camping World Kickoff, the NFL Pro Bowl, NFL preseason games, numerous concerts and other events that are vitally important to the region.
“FCS has worked extremely hard over all these years to position Central Florida as the greatest destination for college football games,” Martin said. “We were in serious danger of losing that reputation because our facility was antiquated compared to the competition. Fortunately, our community leaders saw the value in sharing some of the tourist tax to renovate the stadium, allowing us to maintain our position in the national landscape of college sports.”
With members like Martin and day-to-day leadership from Hogan and others, FCS will likely do just that for the foreseeable future.