Sport Business Students Visit New York City

October 18, 2013

ALLIANCE, Ohio – Members of the Seminars in Sport Business course at the University of Mount Union met with professionals in the sport business world during a one-day trip to New York City this week.

According to Jim Kadlecek, associate professor of human performance and sport business, the NYC trip came about several years ago in an effort to give students an opportunity to visit with professionals to gain insight into working in the sport industry.

“The trip broadens students’ horizons and lets them see how big the world is and it really starts making it real for them in terms of what the industry is about,” Kadlecek said. “It’s a really unique opportunity to get to peek behind the curtains and see the issues, challenges and strategies that go on that we don’t see.”

Early Wednesday morning, nine students along with several Mount Union faculty and staff members flew out of the Akron-Canton Airport for a morning arrival in the city. The group started their day at Yankee Stadium, where they heard from the Joe Leva, assistant manager of inside sales. Leva talked to students about how he started as an intern in the ticket window and worked his way up in the organization over the past several years. He also discussed the formation of a sales team within the organization which was modeled after the NBA’s sales and marketing structure. Initial members of the sales team included former Cleveland Cavaliers salespeople.

The group then headed to Madison Square Garden, where they learned how the famous arena has been transformed. Students heard from several members of the sales team who are in different stages in their careers, ranging from account executive to manager to vice president. Sales team members shared advice with students about the sport sales industry.

“You learn about every single industry, not just sports,” said Dan Shagawat, account executive. “Sales opens your eyes up to so many different things, both across our company and in other companies.”

Students then had free time to walk through Times Square, have lunch and head to the NHL offices. There they heard about the services the league provides for its teams and of the impact the lockout had on the business. Nicole Allison, director of partnership marketing, talked with students about how the NHL works with individual teams in the league as marketing consultants to increase ticket sales, improve team brands and strengthen the brand of the NHL.

From there, students went to a meeting at the NBA, where they spoke with Ben Gumpert, vice president of team marketing and business operations. Gumpert discussed how the league works with individual teams to increase ticket sales and how the NBA uses analytics to make decisions.

"The NBA is, without question, the best of all the leagues when it comes to sales and marketing,” said Kadlecek. “They look at best practices in other industries as well as other leagues to help all of their teams perform at the highest level.”

The group’s final stop in the city was at Engine Shop, a sports, entertainment and lifestyle marketing agency. Students met with Ed Kiernan ’96, president of the agency. They engaged in an informal Q&A with Kiernan and had an opportunity to talk one on one as well. Kiernan encouraged students to contact him if they need assistance finding a job in the industry after graduation.

Following their meeting at Engine Shop, students headed for the airport for a late night arrival at Akron-Canton Airport.

Students attending the trip included Neal Greenho, a senior of North Canton, OH; Mackenzie Parsons, a junior of Cambridge, OH; McKenzie Munger, a senior of Deerfield, OH; Courtney Mendel, a senior of Wadsworth, OH; Adam Proctor, a senior of Waldorf, MD; Matthew Keith, a junior of Onsted, MI; Christopher Motley, a junior of Garfield Heights, OH; Stewart Sabine, a senior of Millersburg, OH and Benjamin Lehrke, a senior of North Ridgeville, OH.

Students on the trip shared that the experience was extremely valuable, allowing them to hear about various jobs in the industry and get advice from professionals.

“The best piece of advice I heard was that there are a lot of different things you can get into in the sports world and you should keep an open mind about it,” said Matt Keith. “You should take advantage of experience that you get regardless of where it is.”

Ben Lehrke agreed that it’s important to take advantage of all opportunities in the industry.

“Internships aren’t always the most appealing but they definitely will help you find out what you like and don’t like as well as get a foot in the door,” he said. “If you have a shot at doing an internship, you should work hard at it and make as many connections as possible.”

“My favorite part of the trip was being able to visit all of the different teams and see how all of their offices are run and what makes their company work,” said McKenzie Munger. “It was helpful to gain more insight on what the sport business industry is about.”

Sport Business Trip to NYC

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