After we left the meetings with AEG, we made our way back to the bus with our wonderful driver Ash to drop off our notes, and for some people to change their clothes. After that, we had about an hour and a half to kill, before the Los Angeles Clippers vs. Memphis Grizzlies basketball game. Everyone dispersed into the concrete jungle that is LA LIVE! With myself, Scott, Brendan, Dean, and David ending up across the street from the Staples Center at the ESPN Zone. The wait was longer than we wanted it to be, but anything would beat the $12 for McDonalds inside the arena. After chowing down on some quality food, we crossed the street and entered the Staples Center. The one notable immediate difference was the temperature of the arena; it was at least a good 15-20 degrees warmer. Another interesting difference was the demographics of the fan base. Hispanics and females made up a much larger contingent among the Clippers fans, while the fans at the Kings game seemed to be primarily Anglo-Saxon. The game got off to a fairly slow start; not in the basketball sense, but in the overall experience. By this I mean that the crowd seemed half asleep until a good portion of the game was already over. The play on the court, though, was phenomenal. Chris Paul was absolutely spectacular to watch in person, dazzling the crowd with crisp passes and crossovers that made defenders look silly. Marc Gasol, of the Memphis Grizzlies quietly had a monster night, seemingly scoring every time that he touched the ball. His soft baby hook completely tore apart the Clippers otherwise strong defensive effort. Even though the Clippers lost, we did get to witness the number 1 play on SportsCenter which was really cool. Overall, the Clippers game was a great experience, and it was definitely one of the highlights of the trip. After the game, we rode back to the hotel, and now we’re going to get some rest and recharge for another eventful day tomorrow!
Today involved thirteen hours inside the world of AEG. We experienced almost every aspect of the firm’s Los Angeles influence. The day began with a meeting with AEG’s COO, Kelly Cheeseman. He provided us with some insight on how the firm goes about its business and how they have grown into a major power in the business world in less than two decades. Founder Phil Anschutz started in the sports and entertainment industry with the purchase of the Los Angeles Kings in the 90s and has since expanded the company’s reach to six continents and they are currently preparing to host an NFL franchise at the new Farmer’s Field facility that is on track to be built within the next few years.
Later on in the day, we travelled to AEG’s LA Live complex, which contains the Staples Center, the Nokia Theater, and much more. When we first arrived, we ate lunch with some of AEG’s recruiters (Francine Pacheco and Whitney Johnson) as well as Andrew Arrospide, a senior Sport Management student from Syracuse who is fulfilling his Capstone with AEG. They provided us with some valuable insight towards certain areas in our professional development we should focus on throughout or collegiate lives.
Lunch was followed by a tour of LA Live given by Shelby Johnson. Mr. Johnson took us through the Nokia theater, AEG Building, the Ritz-Carlton residences, and Club Nokia. Over the course of the tour, Mr. Johnson explained the way AEG’s developments connect with their corporate sponsors. For example, instead of simply having signage, Nokia has samples of their newest mobile phones in the lobby of the theater they sponsor all of the hotels in the LA Live community are run by Marriott. An interesting demonstration of AEG’s influence in the corporate world involves how they are able to convince the Marriott’s at LA Live to switch from providing Pepsi products to Coca-Cola because of the strong affiliation between AEG and Coca-Cola. The tour concluded in Club Nokia with brief presentations from representatives of facilities, AXS.com, Global Partnerships, and security respectively. Today was an opportunity to take advantage of, and build upon, the numerous connections Syracuse University has with a global leader such as AEG.
Day 4 of our LA Immersion trip featured learning about many aspects of Anschutz Entertainment Group, better known as AEG. Our day started out at the headquarters of the Los Angeles Kings. I was a bit disappointed that Luc Robitaille, LA Kings legend and Hall of Famer who is currently the President of Business Operations, was unable to speak to us due to his busy schedule. We got a great presentation from Kelly Cheeseman, the Chief Operating Officer of AEG. Mr. Cheeseman began by explaining how AEG is represented on every continent and owns many sports teams and either owns or operates over 100 sporting venues. His focus is on the Kings and the MLS’ LA Galaxy, both of which won championships in 2012. He explained how winning has driven sales for both of the championship teams, despite the NHL lockout and the loss of David Beckham. He also explained how he markets a champion to an atypical hockey town. There were two main lessons relevant to my intended career that I took away from Mr. Cheeseman’s presentation. The first was that nothing replaces hard work and there are no shortcuts. This applies to any job in the entire world. Secondly, he talked about how data drives the sports industry. Mr. Cheeseman talked about data analysis in sales, but the same idea of data driving the industry applies to front office positions for professional sports teams. I intend to enter a professional sports team’s front office by gaining experience in data analysis, starting this semester at school. We then proceeded to the LA Kings practice facility, which is known as the Toyota Center and is also owned by AEG.
Our next stop was to the Farm of Beverly Hills, where AEG was kind enough to host lunch for us. There we met Francine Pacheco, Whitney Johnson, and Alex Nassief, all of whom worked for learning and development with AEG. They explained what kinds of internships are available with AEG and all of the divisions of AEG. We then heard from Andrew Arrospide, a current senior at SU who is enjoying his time at AEG for his Capstone experience.
After lunch, Shelby Jordan, the director of finance in AEG’s real estate division. Mr. Jordan interestingly was a basketball player at USC under Head Coach Henry Bibby and was a teammate of NBA player Brian Scalabrine. He showed us around many facilities owned and operated by AEG, including the J.W. Marriott, Nokia Theater, and AXS studios. During the tour we actually saw Marc Gasol, the center for the Memphis Grizzlies. From there we went to the Club Nokia and listened to executives from a bunch of different divisions at AEG.
The day concluded at Staples Center for the LA Clippers vs. Memphis Grizzlies. The Grizzlies won 96-85, but Clipper superstar Chris Paul scored his 10,000th career point. Everyone seemed to enjoy the game as well as the insight from everyone at AEG.