Art and Brent Stehlik Share Love of Sports
September 16, 2013
Cleveland sports and Mount Union.
These are just two of the bonds father and son Art Stehlik ’68 and Brent Stehlik ’99 share.
When Brent made the decision to return to Northeast Ohio and join the Cleveland Browns as executive vice president-chief revenue officer earlier this year, it was “like a dream come true” for his father, Art.
“I would have never imagined he’d come back to the cold weather,” Art said. “He was living the dream in San Diego with the Padres.”
For Brent, who grew up in Lakewood, OH, returning to Cleveland was a great move, both for his career and his family.
“The job here is an unbelievable opportunity,” Brent said. “It’s a great opportunity to come in on the ground floor, change things from the bottom up and be part of a group that turns the franchise around.”
Stehlik said his new position has kept him busy but he has enjoyed being part of rebuilding the business side of the team. His duties include overseeing all revenues including corporate partnerships, marketing, media sales, ticket sales, suite sales, client retention, booking and special events as well as concessions, retail and catering.
“If the Browns don’t win, none of this will matter,” he said. “The first goal of the organization is winning. My job is to make sure we have a really good business culture here, to continue to drive revenues and help improve the fan experience. We have to make the fan experience at FirstEnergy Stadium the best in the NFL.”
A History in Sports
For both of the Stehliks, sports have been a driving force in their lives. Art chose to attend Mount Union, following in the steps of his high school basketball coach, John Piper ’58. He played basketball and baseball while at Mount Union.
“It was a great experience,” Art said. “I met some great people playing sports at Mount Union. There were several guys who were somewhat older than me who had been in the Marines. They were like grown men and that really made it a lot of fun.”
During his sophomore year, Art’s team won the Ohio Conference Championship in basketball.
“Mount Union hadn’t won in 30 years,” he said. “I made the winning basket. I got a lucky shot that went in, and we beat Capital to tie Akron for the Championship that year.”
Though he was only on the team during his freshman year, one of the reasons Brent chose to attend Mount Union was to play basketball. He continued to pursue his interest in athletics as he worked in the sports information office each of his four years at Mount Union, faxing press releases, developing media guides and performing other tasks.
“The ability to do a number of different things and meet a variety of different people had a huge impact on me,” Brent said.
Brent also continued to pursue his love of sports in the classroom as a sport management major, enjoying the small class sizes and the relationship he built with Dr. Jim Kadlecek, associate professor of human performance and sport business.
“I always knew I wanted to work in sports, but the structure of the sport management curriculum prepared me because we did a lot of presentations and constant talking in front of the class,” he said. “When you’re in a leadership position in sports you have to be able to do that.”
It was Kadlecek who helped Stehlik land his first job in the sports industry after graduation, working for the Tampa Bay Lightning in ticket sales.
“Dr. Kadlecek was one of the reasons I got my first job in sports,” he said. “He thought of me when the opportunity came up because he knew that I was willing to move anywhere to get my foot in the door and wanted to get out of Ohio.”
Art has tried his hand at a number of professions since graduating from Mount Union. He taught school for a year, was a research chemist for two years, earned a master’s degree in education and then worked in education for five years.
He then decided to go into business while continuing to coach basketball for 20 years, leading teams from third grade to high school age. He pursued a career in the worker’s compensation field for more than 20 years before starting his own company, KKSG and Associates, 13 years ago.
“I enjoy what I’m doing and I enjoy the relationships I’ve formed with clients,” he said.
Brent has also worked in numerous jobs since graduation – all of them in the sports industry. After beginning his career with the Tampa Bay Lightning, he held positions with the Frisco RoughRiders, Arizona Diamondbacks, Dallas Cowboys and most recently, the San Diego Padres as senior vice president of business operations.
Throughout his career in the sports industry, Brent said it was the relationships he formed that helped him continue to move to the next level.
“How you treat people – every interaction you have, from the ushers to colleagues to clients, is important,” he said.
Mount Union Connection
Both Stehliks remember their Mount Union experiences fondly and remain engaged on campus.
“It was a great experience,” Art said of his time at Mount Union, adding that he enjoys making it back to campus often and regularly brings friends to watch football games.
“I had a lot of fun and met a lot of great people, some of whom I’m still very close with,” Brent said. “I still keep in touch with Dr. Kadlacek, and I hope to be more involved with the University now that I’m closer. I have always been a sounding board for students and helped provide insight into what it’s like working in sports.”
Brent was recently honored as one of Sports Business Journal’s Forty Under 40 for 2013.
Art and his wife Sherri reside in Lakewood.
Brent and his wife Molly have three children – Sophie, 5; Boone, 3; and Griffin, 1. They reside in Westlake.