Met With: Curtis Cunningham – Senior Account Executive Sara Nordman – Corporate Suite Director/Marketing Coordinator Nick Evans – Director of Media & PR Josh Hargreaves – Director of Baseball Operations The trip kicked off with a stop at Louisville Slugger Field, home of the Louisville Bats – Triple-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds. One of the two most stressed ideas was, “You will always start with an internship.” Each individual we met with started with the Bats’ organization as an intern before moving into an official staff position, even though they all had prior experience throughout their college years. It is very important to utilize those internships by experiencing as much as possible within the entire organization. You will need to know how to operate in areas other than your own in order for your company to be successful.
The second main idea that was hammered on again and again was, “You must be able to sell.” Even though Nick is responsible for Media Relations and Josh is in Baseball Operations, they are on the phones on a regular basis selling tickets and sponsorships. In addition to selling tickets, all of them need to collaborate and find ways to sell the experience of a game to those in the crowd so that fans will return to the stadium. Curtis explained that, for them, a game was more of an event than a baseball game. Instituting promotions and special deals, such as $1 beers, is what they rely on to get fans into those seats. Even though the team normally has a winning record, they are not the MLB and do not have a large fan base for support.
The Louisville Sport Commission marked our second stop of the day, giving a little different look into the industry. They are a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation governed by a volunteer board of directors. This board directs their actions and overall goals, with their main one focused on getting “heads in beds”. This pertains to filling up the hotels in town by constantly bringing sporting events to Louisville, and therefore increasing the money being spent in the city to allow for economic growth. The LSC has also joined the trend of many sport commissions and started to create and run their own events. They’ve grown from one to six events in the past few years.
As a rapidly growing company, a great piece of insight they shared was to always be mindful of how fast you are growing. The work can sometimes end up being too much for everyone to keep up with and that can lead to decreased growth. In addition, they preached that social media is key from a marketing standpoint, and relationships from a business standpoint. They have been praised in the past and received return business simply due to the great relationship Troy was able to establish with clients. A final idea to keep in mind is that strategy is always getting more complex, whether it is in events, marketing, or overall business. New ideas are essential to success.
River City Rovers
Peter Laventis – Executive Member (deals with sponsorships and operations) Peter@roverssoccer.com; (502) 419-8582
The last meeting of the day was with a new Premier Development League soccer team, the River City Rovers. They only have two years under their belt, making it an interesting perspective as they are still in the early stages of the growing process. One move they have already made to differentiate themselves from other teams was creating a youth program for their players to come up through. This way, a lot of money can be saved from recruiting age-ready players from around the world like they had been doing, and put it into other essential areas of the company.
Similar to many sport organizations, the Rovers are driven mainly by sponsorships, as they are about 85% dependent on them. Which brings up a key aspect that you must have in order to work in sports --be able to drive revenue. If you can bring money into a company, you bring concrete value to the table that is difficult to turn away. In addition, what Peter stressed the most was that you must believe in what you are selling. If you do not believe in the company or particular product you are attempting to sell, it is close to impossible to be successful in the end.