Today, we visited the Home Depot Center, an olympic training facility and professional soccer stadium owned and operated by AEG (Anschutz Entertainment Group). The Home Deopt Center, which opened on June 1, 2003, is a 125-acre, $150 million development in Carson, featuring state-of-the art stadiums and facilities for soccer, tennis, track & field, cycling, lacrosse, volleyball, basketball and other sports. Designated as an “Official U.S. Olympic Training Site,” The Home Depot Center is one of the nation’s most complete training facilities for Olympic, amateur and professional athletes. Our guides for this tour were Katie Pondolfo, the general manager, Kristen Anderson, director of event sales, and Kyle Waters, the Vice President of events and operations. Our tour guides gave us great insight into the day to day operations as well as the long term plans for the Home Depot Center. One of those long term plans includes the new naming rights deal, which changes the name of the complex from the Home Depot Center to the StubHub Center. Perhaps the most difficult part of the new naming rights deal is the laborious task of replacing all of the Home Depot signs with StubHub ones. Katie told us that this process will take 10 days starting on June 1st. Over 30 specialist and technicians comprised from 3 different sign companies will help with the approximately $1million dollar project. On the tour, we were able to step into the Stadium Club and the velodrome, two unique assets that set the HomeDepot Center apart from other athletic facilities. The Stadium club is the LA Galaxy’s premium ticket holder seats which transform into a spacious room for banquets and entertainment, and the velodrome is the largest in America. The cycling track is hand made from Siberian wood. It is the only track of its kind in North America. During the tour we learned not only about the physical elements of the facility, but also the day to day operations of the Home Depot Center from a managerial standpoint. We discussed everything from the LA Galaxy’s disappointing ticket sales despite being MLS champions to the Home Depot Center’s over 150 revenue streams. At the end of the trip, our guides shared with us lessons that they have learned throughout their careers. When telling their stories, each guide stressed the importance of networking, communicating, and developing relationships with everyone you meet.
To finish our night on March 13, 2013 we went to Comedy Tonight presented by SULA. This was a once in a lifetime event to be in the audience when Rob Reiner and Jeff Garlin were speaking. These two men are legends in the comedy world along with Mr. Reiner being one of the biggest and well known director in the movie industry. The night began with a cocktail hour with our sport management group, SULA study aboard students, Newhouse students, and Syracuse Alumni.
When we first entered the cocktail hour we were a bit overwhelmed being the youngest group in the room. Once we started to interact with alumni and other students, we realized what a great networking opportunity this was. I personally took advantage of introducing myself to Mrs. Adler who runs the SULA program. This was an important meeting because this trip has made me realize that I would like to study abroad in Los Angeles. Interacting with other Syracuse University students was interesting because we are off campus and across the country.
The actual performance was unbelievable, I enjoyed hearing these two celebrities speak about personal experiences, and especially Mr. Reiner speak about his career. The movies he has directed are classics, and are important to the development of theater. Hearing Mr. Reiner speak about his acting career and answer questions in a casual setting was a great experience. Mr. Garlin and Mr. Reiner were both very personable celebrate and I was happy to learn that Mr. Garlin is actual the man he is in the HBO series show ” Curb Your Enthusiasm”.
Lastly, I fell as if I should mention this, it was great that the Sport Management students sat in the front row and got a couple laughs out of the questions asked by other students.
We began day six of our LA Immersion journey by heading off to the city of Pasadena home to the historic Rose Bowl. Since 1921, when the Rose Bowl was constructed, the stadium has been a host to some of the largest and most exciting events in sports and entertainment. The stadium not only is the home football field for the UCLA Bruins, the host of the Rose Bowl Parade and the historic Rose Bowl game, but the venue also hosts a monthly flea market and is the site for world class concerts. In the past, the stadium has also hosted five Super Bowls and Olympic events.
When we arrived at the facility, the architect of the Rose Bowl’s current renovations Margo Mavridis took us on a brief tour of the stadium. Ms. Mavridis detailed the history and transformations of the venue including the addition of rounded columns in 1948 and the removal of the track in 1979 in order to add infield seats to maximize seating capacity. The group then got to walk through the newly widened tunnel onto the stadium field where we learned about the additions and renovations of the premium seating area. Ms. Mavridis also shared some interesting facts about the bowl such as the fact that multiple movies including Remember the Titans, Cheaper By the Dozen and Gridiron Gangs have been filmed in the stadium.
After we finished the tour, we made our way into the UCLA football locker rooms where we meet with the Rose Bowl’s Chief Operating Officer George Cunningham and the stadium General Manager Darryl Dunn. Joining Mr. Cunningham and Mr. Dunn in their presentations was Lauren Mirson who is in charge of marketing and communications for the Rose Bowl. Lauren is one of the many Syracuse alums the group has meet on the trip, a testament to the great web of connections Syracuse has developed. The group of presenters spoke on a number of different topics ranging from event security and dealing with complaints by residents in the neighboring areas to how to handle placing sponsorships throughout and around the stadium without violating the historic feel and class of the venue. All three presenters detailed their career paths and many of the key points I took away mimicked those mentioned by previous presenters earlier in the week. The most important aspect I felt was the ability to sell oneself. Sales and selling oneself is key to breaking into not only the sports industry but any industry for that matter. Also, the value of hard work can never be underestimated. If one is willing to work hard and put in the time working entry-level positions that hard work will eventually pay off and talent will be recognized. After concluding a great morning at the Rose Bowl we headed to the Home Depot Center home of the Los Angles Galaxy.