Today we were able to “sleep in” compared to previous days by meeting on the bus by 8:30. We headed off to Pasadena and the Rose Bowl stadium. We were met by Laura Mirson, the Project and Marketing Manager. She is a Syracuse grad who got her degree in only three years. She held positions at Sports Illustrated and AEG prior to the Rose Bowl. She started as Pre-Med but switched to photography and therefore showed us the importance of being multi-faceted.
Laura brought us into the stadium where we met with Margo Mavridis, who is a Stadium Architect for the Rose Bowl Operating Company. They are currently under a $160 million renovation scheduled to be complete in time for the January 1, 2014 Rose Bowl (also the 100th Rose Bowl) and BCS Championship game the following week. Games have continued to go on at the Rose Bowl despite the construction. Margo explained to us the challenge of making incremental improvements to the stadium while also maintaining its’ legendary history. Some of these improvements include new scoreboards, widened tunnels, LED scoreboards and an HD video board.
Next we went into the Rose Bowl offices and spoke briefly with John Barthelme and Tyson Smith. Barthelme is a Sales Manager for the Rose Bowl Revitalization Project (Legends Hospitality) and Smith is a Premium Sales Manager for the Rose Bowl Operating Company. They shared with us some information about selling the new and improved Premium Seating area which will soon be complete.
Next up was Paul Engl, the Sponsorship Director for the Rose Bowl Operating Company. He told us about the process and strategy behind securing sponsorship sales for the stadium. Their most successful example is a partnership with Honda. He urged us “don’t expect a job, go earn a job.” To complete our visit, we also spoke with Cory Shakarian and Mike Ondrejko. Shakarian is the VP of Premium Seating for the Rose Bowl Operating Company and Ondrejko is involved with Legends Hospitality’s Rose Bowl sales team. Mike, a Le Moyne graduate, gave us a laugh by referring to Professor Veley without realizing he was present. It was a classic “small world” moment.
After stopping for lunch at In-n-Out Burger, we went to the Home Depot Center in Carson. We were shown around this AEG-built Facility by Kristen Anderson, the Director of Event Sales. She gave us the full tour: the 8,000 seat tennis stadium, the 27,000 seat soccer stadium, the Olympic training center, and their unique Velodrome. We learned that if an NFL team were to commit to play at Farmers Field in LA, they would practice at the Home Depot Center.
Our next stop was The Post Group offices where we met with Stephen Unger. His family has four generations who’ve attended SU. Unger is a leading executive talent recruiter. He explained his role as a “headhunter” or “poacher.” He has extensive experience in the entertainment industry and has recruited for positions such as MLB and NHL Commissioner.
Our final activity for the day was at the Laugh Factory, where we convened with many other SU in LA participants and alumni. The main event was a panel featuring ABC’s Modern Family writer Danny Zuker, as well as actors Eric Stonestreet and Jesse Tyler Ferguson. Zuker is a Newhouse class of 1986 alum, but Stonestreet is a graduate of Kansas State, the Orange basketball team’s opponent on Saturday. This was a point of contention between Eric and the Syracuse crowd (particularly Professor Veley).
On our way home we made our second stop of the week at Yogurtland. Everybody went back to the hotel happy with their frozen yogurt dessert.
By Jack Wentzell