A request for proposal (RFP) is a document used in business, particularly in government, for procuring goods and services in a competitive bid process. An RFP is best used when the application requires specialized expertise, specific capability, or where the product or service may require several organizations to team.
The goal of a sports facility or community recreation center RFP is to solicit custom, informative responses from qualified providers so that your company, city, board, or committee has the ability to select the best choice for your project. To do this for a sports facility, the issuer generally provides information on the background, goals, and need for the project (feasibility study, market report, financial analysis, funding support/capital campaign, or facility management). The RFP will also may direct, to varying degrees, the specific structure and format of the supplier’s response. For instance, some issuers specify a digital submission, print submissions, or a combination of both in addition to the order and length of the content.
RFPs may be issued during many different phases in the development of an indoor or outdoor sports complex, recreation center, park, or wellness facility. At SFA, we break down these phases into plan, fund, develop, and manage. Here are common RFP topics that accompany each phase:
In some cases, communities combine several or all of these steps into a master RFP for development. In others, these professional services are packaged with architecture, engineering, and construction needs. In these cases, often different firms will partner or ‘sub’ with the primary respondent to fulfill the requirement of the RFP.
When defining the submission details and requirements, it’s important to first understand what criteria your team feels is most critical to determining who will be awarded the work. Some municipalities create a weighted scoring system or categorical scorecard to help them evaluate the submission. Some examples of this criteria includes pricing, understanding of the project, scope of work included, flexibility and customization of approach, firm qualifications, timeline, and format.
The desired format of the RFP response varies. You may consider limiting the total page count if you don’t want to read through hundreds of pages of submittals. You may only want submissions electronically, or you may want printed copies. You may want numbered pages or tabbed dividers to help your committee stay organized. You may want every response to follow the same order for side-by-side evaluation. Because you are issuing the RFP, you get to decide these elements. One final point on format to ask yourself – are you willing to throw out a qualified submittal if an element, like page dividers or number of copies – is not met to specification? If the answer is no, you may want to add a clause on the discretion of the issuer or the weight of that portion of the response.
Some communities or developers choose to issue an RFI prior to issuing an RFP for their sports complex or community recreation center. An RFI requires a less detailed submission from the interested parties and is more of a ‘get to know you’ which assists the issuer in gathering a qualified pool of companies who have the potential to serve their needs. An RFI may be a good first step if the parameters of your project are not yet fully defined or you’d simply like to learn more about your broad options for moving forward and dedicating the time and resources to issuing a full RFP.
For communities, economic development councils, real estate developers, and others who wish to issue an RFP for sports tourism, community recreation, or institutional projects needs such feasibility studies, market assessments, partnership development, capital campaign development, or operations/management, SFA has created a guide to RFP creation, issuance, and evaluation with examples.