Day 4: LA Kings Practice Facility, ESPN, and AEG

A close look of the Staples Center during our time with AEG.
By Ben Rosenwald
Wednesday was yet another jam packed, busy day. We went to the Los Angeles Kings practice facility, ESPN, and had meetings with top executives from AEG. The day started off bright and early as we left at 8am for our 9am meeting at the Toyota Sports Center, which is home to the LA Kings practice facility as well as the LA Lakers and LA Sparks practice facility. It has an Olympic size sheet of ice on which world class skaters practice everyday. The property and the team are both owned by AEG, a common theme for the day. Despite being slightly delayed due to classic LA traffic we were welcomed in with open arms. We were welcomed by Kelly Cheeseman, the Chief Operating Officer for the LA Kings as well as former NHL player and current color commentator for the Kings, Daryl Evans. This part of the trip was a fantastic experience as both Mr. Cheeseman and Mr. Evans each gave us great information regarding the team and the business that surrounds the team.

Daryl Evans began the presentation with us and he primarily spoke about the Kings on ice product. Mr. Evans provided valuable commentary not only on how the team is playing but also on broader topics such as player safety in the NHL. He commented that he sees a progression of the use of helmets in the NHL, and eventually we will see every player wearing a helmet with a full mask in front of it. As our meeting was going on Kings practice got underway, we could see through the glass windows in the area we were meeting in. After Daryl Evans was done speaking he handed it over to Mr. Cheeseman, who discussed the business side of running the Los Angeles Kings and some of his ideas and core values in his job. A few interesting notes from his discussion with us is that the numbers show that there really is no substitution for winning. After their Stanley Cup victory in 2012 they have seen a 20% growth in the fan base. Mr. Cheeseman also talked about their marketing strategy and their desire to really push the black and silver Kings jerseys back into the market place.

Perhaps the most valuable part of the presentation was when Mr. Cheeseman talked about himself and his rise to where he is today. He talked about rising his way up all the way from selling as an account executive to what he currently is today, the COO for the Los Angeles Kings. Kelly gave us strong advice to be successful in the sports world. He first mentioned to map out a business plan for yourself to set a clear path of where you are going and accompany that with hard work. He also stated to not try to become a star and outshine teammates, but instead he stressed the importance of hard work and continuity with co-workers. He believes that will help you be noticed and be successful. After the meeting, Kelly took us on a quick tour of the facility. We did not see the Lakers practice court, but he did take us downstairs to see some very exciting things. We saw the Kings coach’s office, the weight room, and the locker room. All of this was very cool and exciting to see. The morning at the Toyota Sports Center was informative and inspiring, yet our day was just getting started. We were off to continue the rest of our day at LA Live, meeting with ESPN and a whole slate of executives from AEG.

By Matt Miselis 
On a day filled with valuable networking opportunities in the sports industry, I greatly enjoyed our
visit to ESPN’s facilities at LA Live. Our visit consisted of a three-person Q&A, led by Ilan Ben-Hanen (Vice President, Programming and Acquisitions). As ESPN continues facing challenges from Fox Sports 1 and the NBC Sports Network, Ben-Hanen emphasized the true concern for the World Wide Leader In Sports. The biggest priority is not worrying about the other competition. Instead, it’s creating a quality product that consumers will continue using regardless of what the other competitors have to offer.

It was a thrill to meet Mallory Rubin, an editor at Grantland and a graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. She provided an example of how hard-work pays off, as she has worked for Sports Illustrated and now ESPN early on in her young career.ESPN is showing a clear commitment to analytics. Yet, they have avoided the sequence of relying on analytics too often in their written and broadcasted content. ESPN’s growth in digital platforms has resulted in major growth of a multi-billion dollar entity. Ultimately, ESPN will continue the reign as the premier sports media and entertainment organization worldwide. And fortunately for Syracuse students, many of them have the incredible opportunity to be a special part of the company following graduation.

By Jake Polsky

In our fourth full day in Los Angeles, we continued to expand our networks in the sport industry by broadening our horizons. After meeting with ESPN, we headed over to Rosa Mexicano (part of L.A. Live) for a delicious lunch where we interacted with several employees of AEG (Anschutz Entertainment Group). AEG did an incredible job giving us an overview of the company and what they do in the sport industry, as a leading sports and entertainment presenter in the world. After learning more about the divisions and departments of AEG, we heard from a recruiter within the company who gave us valuable insight on what stands out on a resume. Then, we heard from two speakers who completed or are in the process of completing their Capstone project with AEG. The opportunity to hear from people who were in our shoes not too long ago was extremely beneficial. They each explained how they networked to eventually land the position and also described their responsibilities within the organization. Some career advice they offered us included the values of networking, branding yourself, and volunteering your time to work company events.

The eventful day over at L.A. Live continued as we toured two of AEG’s facilities, Staples Center and Nokia Theatre. We learned some interesting information including facts and figures pertaining to these famous venues. It was just so fascinating to learn about the interaction between AEG and its venues and what it takes to put on an event. After finishing our tours of the facilities, we listened to more speakers in various areas and departments of AEG. Eric Bresler is the Vice President of Event Booking and Development for AEG facilities. He had an extremely interesting career path as he bounced around the country working for various sports organizations primarily in marketing. Then, he fell into a new role and became responsible for booking events at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida, before making his way to AEG and his current role. Mr. Bresler described his job as being very unique because it’s a challenging line of work, requiring high energy and be spirited constantly to be successful. In describing the culture at AEG, he strongly felt that everyone in the organization is passionate about what they do. In addition, Mr. Bresler gave us great advice for breaking into the sport industry including the importance of taking advantage of internship experiences by being a sponge and asking questions to truly maximize the opportunity. He also mentioned that being persistent is important, but it is necessary to know when to pick your spots and be prepared for rejection. Throughout the rest of the day, we listened to many other speakers at AEG who gave us valuable words of wisdom and career advice as we try to break into the sport industry.

By Zach Chase

This trip to Los Angeles has been so outstanding, positive, and eye opening for me that it continues to seem more and more unlikely that it can get any better. However, today it did. The trip to the LA Kings practice facility was enlightening and interesting, while our chance to interact with the employees at ESPN really gave us excellent insight to how they go about their programming and how they stand out from the other sports networks. However, the trip to AEG really mesmerized the entire group. The sheer immensity of the company and its large ambition, combined with the valuable lessons their higher-ups passed on to us were simply invaluable to us.

The second half of AEG’s presentations to us including Martha Saucedo of the external affairs department. She discussed her various efforts of community outreach for all of AEG’s properties, along with how he got started working for the government in Washington D.C. For me, the most important message I gathered from her talk was that priorities change during the day everyday and that you need to ne prepared for those items to change frequently.

Nick Baker, the Senior Vice President for global partnerships, gave the group a fresh perspective of how to approach sales and deal with clients no matter the type of client or situation. His mentality of treating every client the same no matter how much money they want to spend rang home the point that the sport industry is all about treating your customers and buyers well, and showing real interest in their investment. He emphasized that consulting with sponsors is all about assessing what they want to get out of the investment.

The next speaker for AEG, Tom Andrus of AXS, who is AEG’s new ticket seller and website, came from a very unique background and showcased to us AEG’s vision for what the endeavor can be and turn into. He showed us a video of the company’s vision for AXS, and we were all blown away.  By using it, arena managers and event planners can track just how well they’re doing and allow people to interact with them from other mediums for future events. This to me showcased the future of attending events and purchasing tickets. I was absolutely astounded by what AEG’s vision for AXS’ future is. Everyone we met at AEG not only were smart, organized, and talented, but also extremely focused on the new heights they can reach to keep making their multi-billion dollar company ever advancing and ahead of the competition,

We ended the day at Comedy Tonight, an event run by all of the programs of Syracuse University out in Los Angeles. It was a great chance to see some familiar faces and to meet and engage with our new chancellor, Mr. Kent Syverud. He acknowledged how lucky we were to be on this trip and how many students wanted to be in our shoes. I couldn’t agree more. Our opportunities on this trip are not only boundless, but have made us invaluable connections and have provided us with invaluable future career advice. And even better, it’s not over yet.

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