Friday: The Final Chapter: Toyota Sports Center, LA Coliseum, NFL Network, & Legends

By: Kellan Massino, Nik Santana, Max Josef

Today, our somber final day, started at 7:45 with the group going to the Toyota Center, the practice facility of the Los Angeles Kings, a continuation of the festivities from last night where we watched the Kings beat the Detroit Red Wings 4-1. Professor Veley provided us with further information that Olympic figure skaters use one of the three rinks to practice as well. After 10 minutes for pictures of the facility, we entered the Kings’ offices to meet with AEG Sports CEO Kelly Cheeseman, Vice President of Digital Strategy and analytics at AEG sports, Aaron Levalley and Jennifer Pope, the VP of Community Relations and the Kings Care Foundation.

IMG_9137During the meeting, we discussed the fan base of the Kings. The team has a pretty diverse fan base, due in part to the fact that Los Angeles is a market full of people from all walks of life and ethnicities. This can be seen in their “We Are All Kings” marketing campaign that they played on the jumbotron the night before. They have even committed upwards of $4 million to various charities such as youth hockey at the YMCA, Camp Ronald McDonald and the Kids’ Science Museum, among others. The Kings have been around for 51 years and have a rich history in the sport and even though they share the Los Angeles hockey market with the Anaheim Ducks, who play their game 50-60 miles away in Orange County, they see them as a partner, not a competitor. Mr. Cheeseman said that the rivalry will help to increase fan loyalty and internet in the sport as the game of hockey continues to grow. The meeting closed with the trio giving career advice to us, which included studying people who are leaders in the industry, reading The Cubs’ Way, (an article about Theo Epstein and the Cubs’ Front Office), networking, not having tunnel vision, being prepared to put their head down and working because good things will come if you do good work. After meeting, we were off to the LA Coliseum.

Much like the Rose Bowl visit from yesterday, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum is one of the most historic sporting venues in the United States.

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Opening in 1923 as a memorial to those who fought in WW1, the Coliseum is the only venue to host the Super Bowl, Olympics, and World Series. Brian Grant, Senior Associate Director, was generous enough to show us around the active construction site. Along with the help of Frances Guerrero, Event Manager, the two ran us through some of the history of the Coliseum, as well as opportunities and challenges moving forward. USC has been the primary tenant in the facility since its opening, and recently signed a new 98 year lease agreement with the facility starting in 2013.

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Having played their games in the Coliseum for almost 100 years, the Trojans are poised to stay for the next hundred. Outside of USC football, the Coliseum has played host to the 1932/1984 Olympic Games, the 1959 World Series, the World Series, and Super Bowls , and  I and VII. The current construction plan includes two separate 6 month builds, with the 2018 season being played press box structures. The aggressive $300+ million renovation will cost more than the original construction of the venue, and requires workers to commit 20 hour days, 6 days a week just to keep in line with the scheduled mid-August 2019 opening. Moving forward, USC plans to buy the property from the city of Los Angeles, who currently owns it. Owning the property would help alleviate some of challenges that come with needing approval from both the city and county before taking action. Also, with the Coliseum being utilized for the 2028 Olympics, renovations will need to be started on the visiting team locker room to meet specifications. Under the direction of Al Davis, the visiting team team locker room was modeled after a casino, and puts the visitors at a severe disadvantage.

After touring the torn up LA Coliseum, we paid a visit to the NFL Network, where we were led by a fellow SU alum, Sara Ries, the Senior Associate Director at the Network. We were taken around the front office where most of the desk work takes place. Then, Sara gave us a preview of what the typical day in the office is like. Prior to the shows, they have meetings to discuss the news for the show and what’s expected to happen for the day. These meetings typically involve the producers, on-air talent and the people who do the graphics.

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Next was the fan-favorite for the visit, seeing the stage where the filming happens. It was really cool to see the set you see on TV in person. Seeing a live set on 21st and Prime, Deion Sanders’ show, was also a great experience. We got to witness a rehearsal of the show before they went live, and it was cool to see both the in-person part, with Amber Theoharis in studio, and Deion Sanders’ part via Skype.IMG_9179.JPG

The most exciting part of the trip to NFL Network was stopping by a live control room during a show on the NFL Network broadcast. There are so many moving parts and it was quite entertaining to see some of the employees do their job and try to talk to us a little bit at the same time. It’s incredible how much focus and attention to detail you need to have when working in a control room, with so many moving parts. I’d be slower to learn the job than Los Angeles traffic on a Sunday. With the trip winding to a close, we’d finish off with our last stop by visiting some Legends.IMG_9169.JPG

Our last meeting of the trip took us to Legends Hospitality, a full-service agency backed by Jerry Jones and the Steinbrenners. While there, we spoke with Chris Terwoord, General Manager, Legends Global Sales. Also there were Dan Aran, Senior Development Associate, and Craig Sindici, whom we met yesterday with the Rose Bowl. Chris and Dan both work on the USC Coliseum renovation project, which we saw first hand earlier in the day.

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Legends got its start with AT&T Stadium (Jerry’s World) being the first venue to get heavy into luxury premium space. Legends has a strong relationship with the NFL, and also headed up the construction of Levi Stadium in San Francisco, and Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Legends has a multitude of branches it focuses on, its newest being global attractions. Some of these include the One World Observatory in NYC and SkyRise in Miami. Legends prides it’s name on being associated with legendary brands in an attempt to properly tell their story. Moving forward, the company hopes to stay long term and manage facilities, as opposed to building the venue and handing it off to the client.

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believe Legends is well positioned to continue growing globally with their European properties, as well as expanding in different US markets. After finishing up our last meeting of the trip, we all headed to a final supper at Miceli’s.

Finally, our day ended at Miceli’s Italian Restaurant. This was quite the interesting dinner as the wait staff sang while diners ate. Dinner and a show, something that some of us probably have never experienced before. The dinner was amazing and we couldn’t thank Professor Veley and Kate Veley enough for the great experience. This was a good finale to the trip as we wereable to become closer to the group than we were (even though we were already pretty close). As the end of dinner came, the Syracuse basketball game tipped-off and we were watching the games on the March Madness App like we were in a trance. On the bus back to the hotel, the tunes were brought out and we sang Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” and Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline.” This trip was something more than just a networking opportunity and a way to see what sports are like on the West Coast, it was a way to meet people in the sport management of all ages. I think I speak for everyone when I say I met people I think I will be great friends with for the rest of my life. Looking back on the trip as a whole, this has been an incredible experience and I would totally recommend it to any student and cannot thank Professor Veley, Kate Veley, and Nicole Imbrogno for giving me the opportunity to go on this trip as a freshman and for giving the group a spring break we will remember forever. This is the 2018 SU LA Immersion Trip signing off. See you back in Syracuse.

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Thursday: StubHub Center, Santa Anita Racetrack, Rose Bowl, LA Kings

By: Zach Allen, Justin Jedwab, Jenn Bard, Javier Ruiz

 

Today we started our day off bright and early and headed to the StubHub Center. The StubHub Center is home to the LA Galaxy and Chargers. They have two stadiums at one facility, the Soccer Stadium which holds 27,000 seats and a Tennis/Boxing Stadium which holds 8,000 seats. Besides soccer and football, they also host events such as tennis, boxing, lacrosse, bull riding and so much more. When the Olympics come to LA in 2028 they will be hosting tennis, rugby and the pentathlon.IMG_2299.JPG

We met with General Manager Katie Pandolfo who gave us a tour of the whole campus, including their velodrome facility. For those of you who may not know, a velodrome is a facility that has volleyball, basketball, tennis, weights and cycling. This facility is used by people training for the events such as the Olympics or simply just staying active. What makes this facility so unique is that it is open for all, including the employees. The employees are encouraged to use this space, as well as the gardening area for their mandatory one hour break.

IMG_2298What stood out to me is when Katie was talking about how to have a work – life balance. What helps her have that is her amazing staff who she trusts, prioritize what is important to you (family, friends, etc.) and to have balance. Having faith in your employees is the foundation to making your work – life balanced. She gave advice to us as we start to get internships or enter the workforce. She told us to not have expectations, because nothing happens immediately. Sometimes you are going to have to take a job in minor league baseball in order to work for a major-league team. Overall, we learned so much about what the StubHub Center does and how they work with AEG. We also received great life advice, that we will continue to think about throughout our careers.

After we went to the Stubhub Center, we made our way to a unique venue, the Santa Anita Park. It is home to one of the most beautiful race track in the world. It has hosted events such as the Santa Anita Derby, Santa Anita Handicap, and the Breeder’s Cup. One of the most impacting features of this venue is its backdrop of the San Gabriel Mountains, it is truly a sight to see. When we arrived, we met up with Michelle and Jorge, two very passionate horse lovers and employees of this world renown racetrack. Michelle is the on-air personality of the races and Jorge is the host of the Spanish version of the commentary. They went through everything Santa Anita is doing to bring a younger demographic and keep the revenue flowing and the sport alive. They also shared some facts about the track such as, their biggest demographic is older people, they race nine months a year, their biggest problem is having enough horses compete, and their most famous event (Breeder’s Cup) brought about 80,000 people.  We also met with Iggy, a current horse jockey who gave us the rundown of what a person of his profession does and goes through on and off the racetrack.IMG_2297

Following the background story of the racetrack, we were taken around the entire facility. We saw the entire facility including: the racetrack, the suites, the gala room, the dining areas, the area where the horses are taken care of, and where they are displayed img_2296.jpgbefore their race. Lastly, and probably the most exciting part was getting the opportunity to bet on a horse and watch the race unfold. Luckily, I was one of four winners to earn some money. As a plus, we also saw the statue of the Triple Crown winner, Seabiscuit. The biggest take from this visit was definitely observing opportunities in sport outside of our comfort zone and not just the four major sports in America.
After leaving the historic Santa Anita Racetrack, it seemed fitting our next destination was the Rose Bowl, “The Granddaddy of Them All”. As we arrived and entered the stadium, we learned that the Rose Bowl was owned by the city of Pasadena, and for that reason, the venue could only host 15-18 major (20,000+) events every year. However, all events after the 15th must be submitted for approval from the city. Given that the stadium holds both the Rose Bowl and UCLA home games, this came as quite a shock that they had such a limited capacity. Jonathan Jackowski, manager of premium sales and Syracuse alumnus, informed us that 17 events were scheduled to date for the 2018.  We also had the opportunity to meet with Premium Sales Director Ben Kirkland, Premium Service Coordinator Meaghan Paschall, Senior Director of Sales Craig Sindici, and Program Coordinator of the Legacy Foundation Dani Perry, all of whom were kind enough to give us a tour of the suites, loge boxes, and museum.IMG_2295

On our tour, we learned that one of the Rose Bowl’s sponsors, Wolfgang Puck, provides free drinks and a free carving station for premium ticket holders. We also discovered that the Rose Bowl’s whole “lower bowl” section doesn’t sell alcohol, so it’s only available for purchase in the premium seating section. Next, we were taken to a loge box, which is an exclusive suite able to hold 192 people with 4-seat outside tables. These seats are sold to sponsors in multi-year contracts, ranging from 3, 5, 7, and up to 10 years of length. Clients are also given the option to purchase for UCLA games, the Rose Bowl, or a combination of the two. From that point, we were led down to the museum, which gave the group an opportunity to learn more about the history of the Rose Bowl, highlighted by an informational video narrated by Kirk Herbstreit. COO of the Rose Bowl George Cunningham met us at the museum and led us onto the field, where we were able to truly appreciate the beauty and history of the venue.

From meeting with this group of executives working for such a legendary event, we were able to come away with important lessons to apply to ourselves. Jonathan pressed that it’s important to be outgoing and able to start a conversation with everyone in order to be successful. Meghan informed us that interns and young professionals who asks questions and are truly looking to get the most out of their work are the ones she tends to recommend for better positions. Lastly, George notified the group that we need to stay informed and up-to-date on what’s going on in the industry we hope to work for, as well as the key he’s taken away from Nebraska’s head coach Scott Frost. Frost doesn’t yell at players when they make mistakes, rather he tries to give them the keys to succeed. Overall, visiting the Rose Bowl was a unique experience jam-packed with interesting information we as a group can study and utilize in our professional lives.

IMG_2294The last stop of the night was the Staples Center Round 2 to see the Los Angeles Kings take on the Detroit Red Wings. Before the game, we were lucky enough to meet with former LA King Daryl Evans. He was gracious enough to meet with our crew, giving us a break down of the game with who to watch for, what to expect, and the implications of the game. Plus, he has a good sense of humor and messed with Drina which is always a crowd favorite. Although we had seen the Staples Center two nights ago, the way it operated and the activation present in the game/stadium was quite different from the Los Angeles Lakers. Before the game even started, the Kings had active signage on their zambonis with Bud Light and they also had what I would call the premium seat, riding shotgun on the zamboni. Plus, right before the puck was dropped, they had a video on the jumbotron of a character from the popular show South Park who chanted the “Go Kings Go!” cheer. This really connects with the younger male audience, a great target audience that businesses try to tap into every day.

During the game, the Kings were very creative. The McFlurry Minute was announced during the last minute of each period, if the Kings were able to score then everyone in the stadium was granted 1 free McFlurry. Now, the favorite of the SULA Immersion group was the StubHub Move of the Game Dance Cam (some of our group enjoyed this more than others). The atmosphere of the game was electric and the crowd, which was noticeably different from the Lakers crowd as it was more blue collar, was very invested in the game. The Los Angeles Kings also gave our group special accomodations besides meeting with Daryl Evans, as they put a welcome sign for our group on the jumbotron. However, that was not our group’s shining moment. In front of the sold out crowd of 18,300 fans, our group made the jumbotron. This was in part thanks to the unpredictable Zach Allen who took his shirt off and waved it around while his little amount of pride went flying out the window. Nonetheless, our group made the jumbotron and that is a fact. After the Kings won 4-1 and the wild events of tonight, it’s safe to say that all left the stadium with a smile on their face. With one day left, the realization of how awesome this trip is and how much we don’t want to leave. So an early thank you goes out to Professor Veley, Mrs. Kate Veley, and Nicole Imbrogno for setting this up and guiding us along the way (and dealing with our shenanigans). You three are the real MVP’s.

SULA Jumbotron Moment

 

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Departure!March 12th, 2016
LA here we come!