Mark Russell Luncheon Recap

Posted on Mon Aug 28, 2023

Warren & Simpson hosts a monthly luncheon for the North Alabama Bar Association, featuring prominent speakers. Past speakers include bestselling author-lawyers, NFL athletes engaged in child welfare, and former Alabama Governors. This month, we had the pleasure of hosting Mark Russell, Executive Director of the Huntsville Sports Commission, as our guest speaker.


In the heart of Alabama, a city with a rich history and a growing sports culture, the Huntsville Sports Commission stands as a beacon for sporting excellence. At the helm of this dynamic organization is Mark Russell, an individual whose passion for sports and commitment to his community has not only shaped Huntsville's sports landscape but has also saved lives on the football field. In this article, we delve into the life and achievements of Mark Russell, Executive Director of the Huntsville Sports Commission, and explore how he has contributed to the city's sports legacy.

A True Huntsville Native

Mark Russell's roots run deep in Huntsville. He not only grew up in this vibrant city but has also raised his own family here. With two adult children and a loving wife by his side, Mark's connection to Huntsville goes beyond professional obligations; it's a genuine love for his hometown that drives his work.

A Remarkable Journey

Mark Russell's journey to becoming the Executive Director of the Huntsville Sports Commission is a testament to his dedication to public service. He previously served on the Huntsville City Council, where he gained valuable experience and insight into the city's needs and aspirations. His involvement in organizations like the Big Boys Club and the Historical Preservation Commission showcases his commitment to preserving Huntsville's heritage while pushing it towards a brighter future.

Building the Future

One of Mark's most significant contributions to Huntsville has been his role as Chairman of the Huntsville Public Authority. Under his leadership, the authority oversaw the construction of the Huntsville Amphitheater and the city's new hall. These projects have not only enhanced the city's infrastructure but have also positioned Huntsville as a prime destination for sports and entertainment events.

A Second Chance on the Field

Mark Russell's life took an unexpected turn six years ago when he experienced cardiac arrest on a football field. This near-death experience serves as a poignant reminder of the fragility of life, especially in the context of football season. What makes this story remarkable is the swift and skilled response of individuals on the field who saved Mark's life, showcasing the power of teamwork and quick thinking in moments of crisis.

A Referee's Perspective

Beyond his administrative roles, Mark Russell has also taken to the football field as a high school referee. While he may not have officiated college games, he has had the privilege of being on iconic fields like Legion Field, Jordan-Hare Stadium, and Bryant-Denny Stadium. His unique perspective as both a sports administrator and a referee has allowed him to see the sports world from multiple angles.

Bringing Huntsville Together

Mark's role is not limited to overseeing the Huntsville Sports Commission; he plays a crucial role in uniting various organizations and stakeholders in the sports tourism industry. With a deep understanding of the players involved, he brings them together to create spectacular sporting events that not only benefit the city but also generate economic impact.

The Non-Profit Champion

The Huntsville Sports Commission operates as a non-profit, relying on a small percentage of tourism tax dollars for its funding. Mark's leadership has been instrumental in ensuring that this organization continues to thrive, bringing exciting sporting events to Huntsville.

"We Do Sports"

Mark Russell's mantra, "We do sports," reflects the Commission's dedication to hosting a multitude of sporting events in Huntsville throughout the year. The importance of sports in today's economy cannot be understated, and the Huntsville Sports Commission is at the forefront of ensuring that the city remains a top destination for such events.

Past Success Stories

The Huntsville Sports Commission has an impressive track record. From hosting the AHSAA Soccer event annually to becoming the wrestling capital of the city, Mark and his team have continually pushed the envelope. They even transformed the SEC Gymnastics tournament into a unique and memorable experience during the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Looking Ahead

As we look to the future, Huntsville's sports scene is teeming with excitement. Upcoming events like the first high school game at Joe Davis Stadium, the Rock-It City Bonspiel (curling), UAH Invitational Volleyball Tournament, and The Southern Showcase promise to keep the city's sports enthusiasts engaged.

How You Can Get Involved

Supporting the Huntsville Sports Commission is as easy as celebrating their successes, attending events, encouraging athletes, and following them on social media through With the city also delving into the world of pickleball, there's no shortage of ways to get involved and enjoy the sports culture in Huntsville.

In Conclusion

Mark Russell's leadership at the Huntsville Sports Commission has not only enriched the city's sports scene but has also brought the community closer together. His dedication to public service, love for Huntsville, and commitment to sports have made him a driving force behind the city's success in the realm of sports tourism. As Huntsville continues to evolve into a sports hub, Mark Russell remains a symbol of dedication, passion, and the pursuit of excellence.

If you are interested in being a guest speaker at one of our future events, please don't hesitate to contact us.